Unit 15: Past perfect subjunctive, word families, relative pronouns, and passive voice

15.1 Past Perfect (Pluperfect) Subjunctive

The past perfect (pluperfect) subjunctive is formed by the imperfect subjunctive of haber (the -<ra or the –se form) + past participle:

escribir traducción
yo hubiera/hubiese escrito (if, that) I had written
hubieras/hubieses escrito (if, that) you (fam. s.) had written
él, ella, Ud. hubiera/hubiese escrito (if, that) he/she/you had written
nosotros hubiéramos/hubiésemos escrito (if, that) we had written
vosotros hubierais/hubieseis escrito (if, that) you (fam. pl.) had written
ellos, ellas, Uds. hubieran/hubiesen escrito (if, that) they/you (form.pl. [fam. pl. L.A.]) had written

The past perfect subjunctive is used when English employs the past perfect tense and when Spanish cues the subjunctive:

Era maravilloso que Josefina hubiera aprendido tantas lenguas tan bien. It was marvelous that Josefina had learned so many languages so well.
Dudábamos que hubieran tenido una coartada legítima. We doubted that they had had a legitimate alibi.

It is also used with “if” clauses in the past and combines with the conditional perfect (or, at times, the conditional) in the main clause:

¿Me lo habrías dicho si lo hubieras sabido? Would you have told me if you had known it?
Si hubieran comprado ese terreno, ahora serían ricos. If you/they had bought that land, now you/they would be rich.

Like the imperfect subjunctive, the past perfect subjunctive also occurs after como si (“as if”):

Habló como si hubiera entendido todo. She spoke as if she had understood everything.

Ojalá and Quién may also be followed by the past perfect subjunctive to express an impossible or improbable situation or a regret (see also section 13.5.):

Ojalá hubiera estado allí. If only (I wish) I had been there.
¡Quién hubiera tenido la suerte de Paco! I wish (If only) I had had Paco’s luck!

When the subject of both clauses is the same, the si + past perfect subjunctive is at times replaced by de haber + past participle:

Si hubiéramos sabido eso, no habríamos venido.

De haber sabido eso, no habríamos venido.

If we had known that, we would not have come.

See the four subjunctive tenses studied, for purposes of contrast:

Subjunctive Tense Spanish Traducción
present subjunctive trabaje (that) I (may) work
imperfect subjunctive trabajara/trabajase (that) I worked, might work
present perfect subjunctive haya trabajado (that) I have worked
past perfect subjunctive hubiera/hubiese trabajado (that) I had worked



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Spanish for Reading and Translation by Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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