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The Plusquamperfekt (Past Perfect Tense) in German

In German, as in English, the Plusquamperfekt describes actions or events that precede another point in the past, which has been expressed in the Perfekt or Präteritum tense. So it is a useful tense as it allows you to distinguish between events that date further back in the past relative to other past events. Unlike English, the past perfect is constructed with two auxiliary verbs.

It is constructed just like Perfekt tense, except that the auxiliary verbs "haben" and "sein" are in their Präteritum forms "hatte" or "war."

e.g. Sie hatten ein antikes Kunstwerk bewundert, als sie im Museum waren.

Er hatte schon viele Jahre in Großbritannien gelebt, bevor er Schottland besuchte.

(He had lived in the UK for many years before he visited Scotland)

Sie hatte schon viele deutsche Freunde und war oft nach Deutschland gereist, bevor sie Deutsch lernte.

(She had many German friends and had often travelled to Germany before she studied German)

Wir waren schon oft im Park laufen gegangen, bis wir erkannten, wie schön der Park eigentlich war.

(We had often gone for a run in the park until we realised how beautiful the park actually was)

Als sie Tennis gespielt hatte, war sie verletzt worden (here, we use the passive in German)

(When she played tennis, she had been injured)

Alles klar? Then read up more posts about the German language. On our German Language Blog "Auf Deutsch, bitte!", you will find posts on many topics in German grammar that will help you to progress more quickly in German- from adjective endings in German, the four German cases, pronouns, prepositions to German syntax. We also teach you helpful German words and phrases for your next trip to Germany, list the ten most useful German verbs to get your German off the ground, give you tips on how to avoid the 5 most common grammatical mistakes in German, tell you how to translate English word busy into German, review of the language apps Duolingo, Memrise, Babbel, and Busuu, explain the difference between language levels A1, A2, B1, B2 etc., list the best online resources to learn German, give you an estimate of how long it takes to learn German, and we compare the most popular online dictionaries Linguee,, dict.leo and Collins. So check out our blog and let us know what you think.

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