Tense order: the Präteritum (simple past) and the past perfect

The Plusquamperfekt (past perfect tense) is used for narrating past actions which happened before other past actions. We often use words such as nachdem (after), als (when) or bevor (before) to make the order of events clear.

Nachdem ich aufgestanden war, machte ich mir einen Kaffee.

After I had got up, I made myself a coffee.

  • The Plusquamperfekt (past perfect tense) refers to the earlier past event:

Nachdem wir angekommen waren, ruhten wir uns aus.

After we had arrived, we had a rest.

  • and the Präteritum (simple past tense) refers to the more recent past event.

Bevor wir aßen, hatten wir den Tisch gedeckt.

Before we ate, we (had) set the table.

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