The past perfect subjunctive

The past perfect subjunctive is what we call a “compound” tense, because it is made by bringing together two parts: the imperfect subjunctive of essere or avere + past participle of the main verb.

Pensavo che lei avesse già preparato le valigie per partire preparare, congiuntivo trapassato.

I thought that she had already prepared her bags for leaving.

Era chiaro che ci fossimo già incontrati prima. incontrarsi, congiuntivo trapassato.

It was clear that we had already met before.

We mainly use the past perfect subjunctive:

  • With verbs followed by the subjunctive (showing doubt, feelings, opinions, or need) in the past.

Temevo che Francesco fosse già andato via andare, congiuntivo trapassato.

I was afraid that Francesco had already gone away.

  • In the structure se (if) + past perfect subjunctive + past/present conditional, to imagine the impact of something that didn't happen on the present or the past.

Se avessi avuto l’ombrello, non avrei i vestiti bagnati avere, congiuntivo trapassato.

If I had had an umbrella, my clothes wouldn't be wet.

Se fossi uscito prima, non sarei arrivato in ritardo uscire, congiuntivo trapassato.

If I had gone out earlier, I wouldn't have arrived late.

  • To talk about a scenario or ask someone's opinion using the structure e se (and if) + past perfect subjunctive, often in passive sentences.

E se fossero stati prodotti in Italia? essere, congiuntivo trapassato.

What if they were made in Italy?

  • After some words that we use with the subjunctive: nonostante (despite), benché (although), sebbene (even though), nel caso in cui (in the event that).

Non aveva passato l’esame, nonostante avesse studiato molto studiare, congiuntivo trapassato.

He hadn't passed the exam, despite having studied a lot.

Gli avevo detto di chiamare, nel caso in cui avesse avuto bisogno avere, congiuntivo trapassato.

I had told him to call me if he needed help.

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