16.6 The Preterite Perfect Tense

The preterite perfect tense is formed by the preterite of the auxiliary verb haber + past participle:

salir traducción
yo hube salido I had left
hubiste salido you (fam. s.) had left
él, Ella, Ud. hubo salido he/she/you (form. s.) had left
Nosotros hubimos salido we had left
Vosotros hubisteis salido you (fam.pl.) had left
ellos, ellas, Uds. hubieron salido they/ you (form. pl. [fam. pl. in L.A.]) had left

The preterite perfect tense is an “alternate” form of the past perfect tense (e.g., había salido) and translates the same (“had left”). It was routinely used in Old Spanish and is still seen today, almost exclusively in literature (and almost never heard in speech). It is only used after conjunctions of time: después (deque, luego que, apenas (“hardly,” “barely”), así que, en cuanto, no bien (all three translating as “as soon as”), cuando, tan pronto como, when one action takes place immediately after another, the latter almost always in the preterite tense:

Así que le hubimos hablado, nos fuimos. As soon as we had spoken to him, we left.
Apenas me hube graduado, se murió mi padre. had barely graduated and (when) my father died.
No sooner had I graduated, my father died.

Vocabulario básico


apenas- as soon as, barely, no sooner than
así que- as soon as
no bien- as soon as

Last revised on June 28, 2021.