Portuguese Pluperfect

Example with irregular Portuguese pluperfect : Eles nunca tinham visto algo tão estranho.

How are you guys? Ready for another Dica? Let’s talk about the Portuguese Pluperfect.

The pluperfect tense in Portuguese, or “mais-que-perfeito,” is used to describe an action that had occurred before another past action. So we use the Portuguese Pluperfect when we want to talk about something that happened in the past, before another past. Sounds strange? Don’t worry it makes total sense, let’s go

We have two forms of Portuguese Pluperfect verbs: the simple form and the compound form.

Mais-que-perfeito composto (Pluperfect compound in Portuguese)

As we will see later, almost nobody uses the simple form nowadays. So, let’s focus our main efforts on the Portuguese Pluperfect Compound. The compound form expresses a repetition of an action or its continuity until the moment of speech. The formation of the Portuguese Pluperfect of regular verbs is as follows, in the compound form:

Formation of the Portuguese Pluperfect of regular verbs 

The formation of the Pretérito mais-que-perfeito composto is combining the Pretérito Imperfeito of the ver Ter + the participle of the main verb.

Pluperfect of regular verbs in Portuguese. A formação do pretérito mais-que-perfeito composto é feita pelo uso de: Ter (pretérito imperfeito) + Particípio do Verbo Principal. Exemplo: Eu tinha morado.

As you can see, we will need the verb ter (to have) and a main verb in the past participle. There’s a very simple rule to create the participle. Let’s see:

Past participle of regular verbs in Portuguese

Pluperfect of regular verbs in Portuguese. Particípio dos verbos regulares terminados em -AR é feito utilizando -ADO ao final do verbo. O particípio dos verbos regulares terminados em -ER ou -IR é feito utilizando -IDO ao final do verbo.

Now we have everything we need. Let’s see the structure in another way:

How to Conjugate the Portuguese Pluperfect:

  1. Conjugate the auxiliary verb “ter” in the imperfect tense.
    • Eu tinha (I had)
    • Você tinha (You had)
    • Ele/ela tinha (He/She had)
    • Nós tínhamos (We had)
    • Vocês tinham (You all/You guys had)
    • Eles/elas tinham (They had)
  2. Add the past participle of the main verb.
    • The past participle for regular verbs ending in -AR changes to -ADO (e.g., falar → falado).
    • For verbs ending in -ER and -IR, it changes to -IDO (e.g., comer → comido, abrir → aberto).

Examples:

  • Eu tinha falado (I had spoken)
  • Ela tinha comido (She had eaten)
  • Nós tínhamos saído (We had left)

When to Use the Pluperfect in Portuguese

You use the pluperfect compound to talk about:

  • Actions that were completed before another point in the past.
    • “Quando cheguei à festa, João já tinha saído.” (When I arrived at the party, João had already left.)
  • Conditions that were true before a past event.
    • “Ele não sabia que eu tinha preparado uma surpresa.” (He didn’t know that I had prepared a surprise.)

This tense adds depth to storytelling by allowing you to discuss sequences of events and conditions that were in place before other past occurrences. It’s particularly useful in narrative and descriptive writing or speech, providing a richer historical context.

So let’s see some examples using the Portuguese Pluperfect of regular verbs in the compound form.

Examples with the Portuguese Pluperfect of regular verbs

Vocês já tinham falado com ela sobre a festa? Eu falei com ela há pouco.
Had you already spoken to her about the party? I spoke to her not long ago.

Nós já tínhamos vendido o carro quando a Julia decidiu comprá-lo.
We had already sold the car when Julia decided to buy it.

Quando o João chegou, eu já tinha saído.
When João arrived, I had already left.

Ele já tinha comprado um computador quando a loja entrou em promoção.
He had already bought a computer when the store went on sale.

Marta estava decepcionada pois nunca tinha perdido um jogo antes.
Marta was disappointed because she had never lost a game before.

No momento em que cheguei na estação, o trem já tinha partido.
The moment I arrived at the station, the train had already left.

Eu já tinha terminado de ler quando acabou a luz.
I had already finished reading when the lights went out.

Você já tinha chegado quando eu te liguei?
Had you already arrived when I called you?

Ela ainda não tinha lido o livro que eu falei.
She had not read the book I told her.

Eles nunca tinham ouvido uma música tão bela. Por isso, estavam emocionados.
They had never listened to such a beautiful song. That’s why they were so moved.

Elas nunca tinham pensado no assunto. Por isso estavam tão indecisas.
They had never thought about the subject. That’s why they were so indecisive.

Formation of the Pluperfect of Irregular verbs in Portuguese

There isn’t a rule for the formation of the participle of irregular verbs in Portuguese, but to make it easier, let’s see a list of participles of these verbs to form Pluperfect:

  1. Abrir (to open) – aberto
  2. Cobrir (to cover) – coberto
  3. Dizer (to say) – dito
  4. Escrever (to write) – escrito
  5. Fazer (to do, to make) – feito
  6. Pôr (to put) – posto
  7. Ver (to see) – visto
  8. Vir (to come) – vindo

All good? Now, let’s see some examples using the Pluperfect of irregular verbs in Portuguese:

Examples of the Pluperfect of irregular verbs in Portuguese

Você já tinha escrito o e-mail para o advogado quando ele pediu.
You had already written the e-mail to the lawyer when he asked.

Ele nunca tinha visto uma mulher tão linda antes. Por isso estava apaixonado.
He had never seen a woman so beautiful before. That’s why he was in love.

Nós já tínhamos aberto as janelas quando ela nos pediu.
We had already opened the windows when she asked us.

Vocês já tinham vindo à Copacabana antes?
Had you been to Copacabana before?

Eles já tinham posto tudo de volta no quarto quando João chegou.
They had already put everything back in the room when João arrived.

Elas já tinham feito o pedido quando o garçom chegou.
They had already ordered when the waiter arrived.

Portuguese Pluperfect’s simple form

Before you leave, let’s see the simple form of the Portuguese Pluperfect tense. The main difference between the simple and compound forms of the Portuguese Pluperfect tense is that the simple form is more formal than the compound form. Nowadays, it’s possible to notice that the majority of the native speakers of Portuguese prefer using the compound form of the Portuguese Pluperfect.

The simple form of the Portuguese Pluperfect was used much more in earlier times. For example, when Machado de Assis wrote his stories, circa 1870.

Structure of the pluperfect tense simple form. The formation of the simple form of the pluperfect tense is: eu falara, você falara, ele/ela falara, nós faláramos, vocÊs falaram, eles/elas falaram, eu dissera, você dissera, ele/ela dissera, nós disséramos, vocês disseram, eles/elas disseram, eu rira, você rira, ele/ela rira, nós ríramos, vocês riram, eles/elas riram.

Examples with the Portuguese Pluperfect’s simple form

Ele já estudara a matéria quando o amigo chegou.
He had already studied the subject when the friend arrived. 

Ela chegara às 11:00, pois dormiu tarde.
She had arrived at 11:00 because she slept late.

Quando o João chegou, eu já saíra.
When João arrived, I had already left.

As meninas já comeram quando eu cheguei.
The girls had already eaten when I arrived.

Você já dormira quando ele te ligou?
Had you already slept when he called you?

Vocês já falaram sobre a RioLIVE!? Eu convidei eles ontem.
Had you already spoken about RioLIVE!? I invited them yesterday.

Naquela tarde, eles ouviram um barulho estranho.
That evening, they had heard a strange noise.

Quando o noivo apareceu, a noiva já chegara na igreja.
When the groom appeared, the bride had already arrived at the church.

O marido mentiu para a polícia, mas a esposa dissera a verdade.
The husband lied to the police, but the wife had said the truth.

André comprou um apartamento com o dinheiro do carro que vendera.
André bought an apartment with the money from the car he had sold.

Pluperfect Portuguese Exercises

Complete the sentences with the compound form of the Portuguese Pluperfect Tense:

  1. Quando Marcos chegou, Roberto já _____ ____ (partir).
  2. Comprei a passagem com o dinheiro que _____ ____ (guardar).
  3. Eu cheguei atrasado porque _____ ____ tarde ontem (dormir).
  4. Meu dinheiro já _____ ____ (acabar) quando o preço caiu.
  5. No momento que cheguei no ponto, o ônibus já _____ ____ (sair).

Now, complete the following sentences with the simple form of the Portuguese Pluperfect:

  1. Ele _____ (dizer) que o livro era bom.
  2. Quando percebi, a porta já _____ (fechar).
  3. No momento em que Anna saiu, Débora _____ (chegar).
  4. Em toda minha vida, eu nunca _____ (ouvir) nada tão belo.
  5. Você ainda não _____ (escrever) a redação que mandei?

Fill in the blanks with the correct form of the pluperfect compound tense:

  1. Ela me disse que você ________ (dizer) tudo.
  2. Nós ________ (ver) o filme antes da estreia.
  3. Eles ________ (vir) à festa muito animados.
  4. Antes de 1990, ele nunca ________ (morrer) de fome.
  5. A janela estava aberta porque eu ________ (abrir).
  6. Eu ________ (escrever) a carta, mas não a enviei.
  7. Você ________ (fazer) o jantar antes de eu chegar?
  8. Ele ________ (pôr) o livro na estante antes de sair.
  9. Nós ________ (cobrir) o carro antes da chuva começar.

All good? Now you already know how to use and understand the Portuguese Pluperfect.
Some questions for you guys. Have you already studied Portuguese before? Have you already visited Rio de Janeiro in the past? Have you already cleared doubts in Portuguese on our Twitter?
We hope that all your answers have been YES!

We will see you on our next Dica, guys.
Hugs from Rio & Learn!

             
Click on the links below to see more related Dicas


Perfeito and Imperfeito (Past)
Verbs in -Er in the simple past

Past Perfect and Imperfect Exercises
Pretérito Imperfeito in Portuguese
Pretérito Imperfeito with irregular verbs

Answers

compound form: 

  1. tinha partido
  2. tinha guardado
  3. tinha dormido
  4. tinha acabado
  5. tinha saído   

simple form:

  1. dissera
  2. fechara
  3. chegara
  4. ouvira
  5. escrevera

Compound Irregular Form:

  1. Ela me disse que você tinha dito tudo.
  2. Nós tínhamos visto o filme antes da estreia.
  3. Eles tinham vindo à festa muito animados.
  4. Antes de 1990, ele nunca tinha morrido de fome.
  5. A janela estava aberta porque eu tinha aberto.
  6. Eu tinha escrito a carta, mas não a enviei.
  7. Você tinha feito o jantar antes de eu chegar?
  8. Ele tinha posto o livro na estante antes de sair.
  9. Nós tínhamos coberto o carro antes da chuva começar.

This post is also available in: English Português (Portuguese) Español (Spanish)

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