3. Past Perfect Tense

German past perfect (also called pluperfect) visually differs from the German present perfect only in the tense of the auxiliary verb. The meaning of German past-perfect tense is identical to English past-perfect tense. Compare these examples:

Past perfect Present perfect
Er hatte ein Buch gekauft.
He had bought a book.
Er hat ein Buch gekauft.
He bought a book.
Er war in die Stadt gegangen.
He had gone to town.
Er ist in die Stadt gegangen.
He went to town.

The past perfect has only this one use. Just as is in the present perfect, note that the past participle appears in final position.

Last revised on March 4, 2016.