Definition of pluperfect in English:



  • (of a tense) denoting an action completed prior to some past point of time specified or implied, formed in English by had and the past participle, as in he had gone by then.

    • ‘This, in effect, is what the pluperfect tense achieves when we say something like ‘John had already eaten when Mary arrived’, meaning that his eating was already past when the past event of Mary's arrival occurred.’
    • ‘He's going to start understanding plurals and possessives and abstract notions of time and space, and before you know it he'll be speaking in the pluperfect subjunctive.’
    • ‘You started with the present tense, you then went to the past tense and now you have gone to the pluperfect past tense.’
    • ‘The extent to which this grammatical form suggests a pluperfect is disputed among Hebrew grammarians.’
    • ‘The driver replies, ‘I've heard that question a thousand time, but never in the pluperfect subjunctive.’’
    • ‘And the driver says, ‘I've never heard anyone use the pluperfect participle before!’’


  • The pluperfect tense.

    • ‘He also fails to note our point that even without the pluperfect the story is perfectly consistent.’
    • ‘The pluperfect must be mastered first for the examination.’


Late 15th century: from modern Latin plusperfectum, from Latin (tempus praeteritum) plus quam perfectum ‘(past tense) more than perfect’.