The past perfect tense


The past perfect in main and subordinate clauses

In main clauses, the simple past of haben or sein is the second element and the past participle is placed at the end: Wir hatten uns seit der Schulzeit nicht mehr gesehen. We hadn’t seen each other since we left school. In subordinate clauses, the relevant form of haben or sein moves to the end of the clause, preceded by the past participle: Ich öffnete die Tür, nachdem ich den Schlüssel gefunden ... »

Past perfect with sein

Some regular and irregular verbs take the simple past tense of sein + past participle when forming the past perfect tense: Ich wusste nicht, dass er nach Deutschland gereist war. I didn’t know that he had travelled to Germany. Nachdem die Eltern nach Hause gegangen waren, feierten die jungen Leute weiter. After their parents had gone home, the youngsters continued to party. »

Past perfect with haben

The past perfect for most verbs is formed by using the appropriate simple past form of haben + the past participle of the relevant verb. This applies to regular and irregular verbs that take haben in the present perfect tense: Nachdem er einen Computer gekauft hatte, surfte er im Internet. After having bought a computer, he surfed the Internet. Wir hatten zum Glück Goethes Faust gelesen und konnte... »

The past perfect tense

What is the past perfect tense? The past perfect tense, also called the pluperfect tense, is one of the three past tenses in German. It is used when speaking or writing about the past to refer to events that happened earlier: Gestern traf ich Karl. Wir hatten uns seit 20 Jahren nicht gesehen. Yesterday, I met Karl. We hadn’t seen each other for 20 years. Formation of the past perfect The past perf... »