Alongside the perfect and imperfect tenses, a further past tense exists in Latin. This is called the pluperfect tense. The pluperfect tense (or past perfect in English) is used to describe finished actions that have been completed at a definite point in time in the past.
It is easiest to understand it as a past ‘past’ action.
‘I had given the messuage to Lucy, when I realised my mistake.’
The messuage had been given to Lucy before the speaker realised his mistake.
In Latin this tense looks like this:
Ego Lucie messuagium dederam – I had given a messuage to Lucy
The endings for the pluperfect are similar to those of the present tense:
|-o||I||(first person singular)|
|-s||you||(second person singular)|
|-t||he/she/it||(third person singular)|
|-mus||we||(first person plural)|
|-tis||you||(second person plural)|
|-nt||they||(third person plural)|
The difference is that they are preceded by ‘era-’ and, in the first person singular, the characteristic ‘-o’ of the present changes to ‘-m’ in the pluperfect.
|Pluperfect tense endings|
To form the pluperfect tense, remove the ‘-i’ from the third principal part of the verb and add the relevant ending.
Pluperfect of confirmo, confirmare, confirmavi, confirmatum (1) to confirm
|confirmaveram||I had confirmed|
|confirmaveras||you had confirmed|
|confirmaverat||he/she/it had confirmed|
|confirmaveramus||we had confirmed|
|confirmaveratis||you had confirmed|
|confirmaverant||they had confirmed|
Two irregular verbs you will frequently come across are ‘esse’, ‘to be’, and ‘ire’, ‘to go’. It is well worth learning their pluperfect forms.
The pluperfect tense of sum, esse, fui – ‘to be’ is formed as follows:
|fueram||I had been|
|fueras||you had been|
|fuerat||he/she/it had been|
|fueramus||we had been|
|fueratis||you had been|
|fuerant||they had been|
The pluperfect tense of eo, ire, ivi, itum (4) ‘to go’ is formed as follows:
|iveram||I had gone|
|iveras||you had gone|
|iverat||he/she/it had gone|
|iveramus||we had gone|
|iveratis||you had gone|
|iverant||they had gone|
Are you confident with
- the meaning of a pluperfect tense?
- the form of a pluperfect tense?
- the meaning of the irregular verbs ‘esse’ and ‘ire’ in the pluperfect tense?
- the form of the irregular verbs ‘esse’ and ‘ire’ in the pluperfect tense?