Lesson 26:
The Past Perfect Subjunctive

The Past Perfect Subjunctive

Formation of verbs

Like the past perfect tense, we use the verb “haber” (to have) as an auxiliary + past participle. Unlike the conjugation of the verb “haber”, which in the past perfect indicative is conjugated in the past tense – the past perfect subjunctive is conjugated in the past subjunctive.

Yo hubiera
Tú hubieras
Él/Ella hubiera
Nosotros hubiéramos
Ellos hubieran

+
comido
vendido
hecho

The Past Perfect Subjunctive expresses a doubt, emotion, chance or any past or present opinion related to an action in the past, of which we only know its intention. This action is before the doubt, emotion, likelihood or any opinion.

 

CONCORDANCE OF TENSES

Main Clause

Past tense indicative-
Expresses a past idea
 
Conditional tense indicative-
Expresses a present idea
 
Conditional Perfect
Expresses a present idea

+
que
+
Dependent Clause

 
 
 
Past Perfect Subjunctive

Nominal clause: (verbs)

We have a specific classification of verbs that can be combined with the subjunctive.

These verbs are:

Desire: desear, esperar, necesitar, querer, preferir.

Example:

Antes de salir de casa, yo preferiría que tú hubieras terminado la tarea, porque no sé a qué hora regresemos.
Before leaving home, I would prefer that you had completed the task, because I do not know what time we get back.

Yo deseé que todos hubieran estado bien, pero lamentablemente mi amiga tuvo que ser llevada al hospital.
I wished that everyone would have been fine, but unfortunately my friend had to be taken to the hospital.

Tú mamá habría querido que tú hubieras ido a la universidad, pero tú preferiste empezar a trabajar.
Your mom would have wanted that you had gone to college, but you preferred to start working.

Suggestion: aconsejar, prevenir, proponer, recomendar, sugerir.

Example:

Probablemente mi mamá habría aconsejado que todos hubiéramos comido antes de salir.
Probably my mom would have advised that everyone had eaten before leaving.

Yo propondría que tú hubieras estudiado más español si tú tuvieras más tiempo.
I would propose that you had studied more Spanish if you had more time.

¿Habrías recomendado que él hubiera invitado a ella a la fiesta, cuando eres tú la que quiere ir con él?
Would you have recommended that he had invited her to the party, when you’re the one who wants to go with him?

Plea: implorar, orar, pedir, rezar, rogar, suplicar.

Example:

Él rogó que yo hubiera llegado temprano, pero lamentablemente tuve un problema con el carro y no pude llegar a tiempo.
He begged that I would have come early, but unfortunately I had a problem with the car and I could not arrive on time.

Yo suplicaría que mi mamá hubiera tenido antes su cirugía si la enfermedad estuviera muy avanzada.
I would beg that my mom would have had her surgery before, if the disease was very advanced.

Doubt: creer, dudar*, imaginar, pensar, sospechar, suponer.

*All verbs except dudar use the subjunctive only in a negative or interrogative form.

Example:

No pensé que ella hubiera hecho eso, pero al parecer sí lo hizo.
I did not think she would have done that, but apparently she did.

¿Pensarías tú que él hubiera ido a la fiesta, si él no te lo hubiera dicho?
Would you think that he had gone to the party, if he wouldn’t have told you?

Nosotros dudamos que ellos hubieran tenido la culpa de lo que pasó, pues ellos estuvieron todo ese tiempo con nosotros.
We doubted that they had been to blame for what happened, because they were with us all the time.

Feeling: encantar, extrañar, gustar, lamentar, sentir, temer, tener miedo de.

Example:

Yo tenía miedo de que las explosiones hubieran sido en tu casa, porque se oyeron muy cerca, pero gracias a Dios que están bien.
I was afraid that the explosions had been in your home, because it sounded nearby, but thank God you are fine.

A él le habría gustado que ella hubiera venido a la fiesta, pero ella no pudo venir porque está enferma, ¡qué lástima!
He would have liked that she had come to the party, but she could not come because she’s sick, what a shame!

Emotion: (Reflexive emotion verbs use the subjunctive with indirect object pronouns plus the third person singular él of the verb.) Alegrarse, angustiarse, asombrarse, asustarse, conmoverse, disgustarse, emocionarse, enfadarse, enojarse, espantarse, incomodarse, indignarse, interesarse, irritarse, molestar, preocuparse, sorprenderse.

Example:

Emocionarse
me emocionó
te emocionó
le emocionó
nos emocionó
les emocionó
Example:

Me enojó que él hubiera hablado con ella, pensé que todo había quedado claro la última vez.
I was angry that he had spoken to her, I thought it had been clear last time.

Yo sé que te habría emocionado que tú novio te hubiera dado el anillo de compromiso en tu cumpleaños.
I know you would have been excited if your boyfriend had given you the engagement ring on your birthday.

When previous verbs use the reflexive form, generally use “de” before “que”

Example:

Emocionarse
me emociono de
te emocionas de
se emociona de
nos emocionamos de
se emocionan de
Example:

Me enojé de que él hubiera hablado con ella, pensé que todo había quedado claro la última vez.
I was angry that he had spoken to her, I thought it had been clear last time.

Yo sé que te habrías emocionado de que tú novio te hubiera dado el anillo de compromiso en tu cumpleaños.
I know you would have been excited if your boyfriend had given you the engagement ring on your birthday.

Impersonal clause: (impersonal phrases)

These phrases are divided into two groups, as follows.

The impersonal phrases that express doubt, possibility or any opinion, and use the conjunction “que”, use the subjunctive. When they do not use this conjunction, the verb should be in the infinitive, not subjunctive.

Example:

convíno que it had better that fue probable que it was probably that
fue aconsejable que it was advisable that fue recomendable que it was recommended that
fue alegre que it was great that fue sorprendente que it was surprising that
fue asombroso que it was amazing that fue triste que it was sad that
fue bueno que it was good that fue una lástima que it was a pity that
fue conveniente que it was desirable that fue urgente que it was urgent that
fue difícil que it was difficult that importó que matter
fue dudoso que it was doubtful that más valió que had better that
fue fácil que it was easy that ojalá que hopefully
fue importante que it was important that pareció mentira que it seemed untruthful that
fue imposible que it was impossible that posiblemente / posible probably
fue increíble que it was incredible that probablemente maybe / possibly
fue lamentable que it was a shame that / unfortunate that pudo ser que it could be that
fue malo que it was wrong that quizá / quizás perhaps
fue mejor que it was better that sorprendió que surprisingly
fue necesario que it was necessary that tal vez maybe
fue posible que it was possible that urgió que it was urgent that
fue preciso que It was necessary that, precise valió la pena que it was worthwhile that
fue preferible que it was preferable that

Remember that the conjugation of the verb, in this case “ser”, can change. In this case you can change to conditional or conditional perfect sería or habría sido.

Example:

Habría sido necesario que ella hubiera preparado la comida para que ellos hubieran salido a tiempo.
It would have been necessary for her to have prepared the food so that they would have left on time.

Sería una lástima que ellos hubieran tenido un accidente, ojalá que estén bien.
It would be a shame that they had had an accident, I hope that they are well.

Ojalá que él hubiera querido casarse con ella, pero bueno, él ya tenía otros planes para su vida.
I wish he would have wanted to marry her, but hey, he already had other plans for his life.

Quizás tú hubieras podido aprender más pero no hubo mucho tiempo durante tu viaje.
Perhaps you would have been able to learn more, but there was not much time during your trip.

Fue dudoso que ella hubiera tenido algo que ver con el asunto, pues parecía que ella no sabía muchas cosas sobre lo que pasó.
It was doubtful that she would have had something to do with the issue, it seemed that she did not know much about what happened.

The impersonal phrases that express certainty only use the subjunctive mood in a negative way, and use the conjunction “que”. When used in the affirmative form, it uses the verb in the indicative, not subjunctive.

These phrases are:

no fue cierto que it was not true that no fue obvio que it was not obvious that
no fue claro que it was not clear that no fue seguro que it was not sure that
no fue evidente que it was not evident that no fue verdad que it was not true that
no fue lógico que it was not logical that no pareció que it didn’t seem that
Example:

Cuando vimos a la novia de Juan, no parecía que hubiera estado enferma. ¡Qué raro!
When we saw John`s girlfriend, it didn’t seem that she had been ill. That’s weird!

No era obvio que ellos hubieran ganado legalmente la competencia, había algo muy raro en todo eso.
It was not obvious that they had won the competition legally, there was something very odd about that.

No fue verdad que yo hubiera estado enferma, simplemente no quería ir a trabajar.
It was not true that I had been sick, I just didn’t want to go to work.

Adverbial clause (conjunctions)

Adverbial clauses are words or phrases that join two sentences. These conjunctions are divided into three groups.

In the first group we use the subjunctive after the conjunction if the idea is in future, and if the idea is in present, we use the indicative mood.

These conjunctions are:

apenas no sooner, just en seguida de que after that
así que so that hasta que until
cuando when, whenever, even if luego de que after that
después de que after that mientras que while, whereas
durante during tan pronto como as soon as
en cuanto as soon as
Example:

Tan pronto como ella hubiera venido, nosotros habríamos empezado a servir la mesa. Fue una lástima que ella llamara para cancelar la cena.
As soon as she had come, we would have started to serve the table. It was a pity that she called to cancel the dinner.

Ellos habrían ido a cenar apenas hubiera terminado el concierto, pero lamentablemente ya no fueron.
They would have gone to dinner as soon as the concert was over, but unfortunately they did not go.

Hasta que él hubiera terminado el examen, la maestra se habría quedado, pero él decidió no terminarlo.
Until he had finished the exam, the teacher would be gone, but he decided not to finish it.

The following conjunctions use the subjunctive when they use the word “que”, if not, use the infinitive.

These conjunctions are:

a fin de que in order that con tal de que as long as / provided that
a menos que unless en caso de que in case that
a no ser que unless para que in order that, so that
antes de que before sin que without
con la condición de que with the condition that
Example:

Yo habría salido de la casa, sin que mis padres se hubieran dado cuenta, pero mi hermano me delató.
I would have left the house without my parents having noticed, but my brother betrayed me.

Ella habría hecho hasta lo imposible para que su madre se hubiera recuperado por completo.
She would have done the impossible for her mother to have recovered completely.

Yo habría comprado el teléfono en caso de que nosotros lo hubiéramos necesitado en el viaje.
I would have bought the phone in case we had needed it on the trip.

The following conjunctions use the subjunctive if the idea is unknown, and if the idea is known – use the indicative.

aunque in spite of / even if de modo que so that, and so
como how donde where
de manera que so that, and so según according to
Example:

Yo habría ido donde tú me hubieras dicho.
I would have gone where you would have told me.
Yo comí las verduras de modo que mi hijo las comió también. (known)

Ella habría hecho la carta según le hubiera dicho su jefe.
She would have made the letter as her boss had told her.
Ella hizo la carta según le dijo su jefe. (known)

Tú habrías viajado aunque tus padres te hubieran dicho que no lo hicieras. ¿verdad?
You would have traveled even if your parents had told you not do it. Right?
Tú viajaste aunque tus padres te dijeron que no lo hicieras. (known)

Indefinite clause (non-specific)

Any clause with indefinite subjects uses the subjunctive, and the following verbs: desear, querer, requerir, necesitar, buscar, pedir. Here we use the indefinite article un, una, unos, unas because the subject is non-specific.

Example:

Los turistas buscaban un guía que hubiera viajado por todo el país, pues el sabría mejor la historia de cada lugar.
Tourists were looking for a guide who had traveled all over the country, because he would know more about the history of each place.

Para estudiar mejor el español, los estudiantes necesitarían un libro que hubiera sido escrito por un autor latinoamericano.
To better understand Spanish, the students would need a book that had been written by a Latin American author.

Ella habría buscado un carro que hubiera sido usado en una película antes, pero no hay fondos suficientes para esto.
She would have looked for a car that had been used in a movie before, but there aren’t sufficient funds for this.

The following expressions always use subjunctive, as expressing an idea indefinitely.

Comoquiera que however ¿Hubo algún + noun + que …? There was any + noun + that … ?
Cualquier + noun + que any + noun + that ¿Hubo alguna / algunas / algunos + noun + que …? there was any + noun + that … ?
Cualquiera que whoever Lo que / el que / la que / los que / las que What / that / which
Cuandoquiera que whenever Por + adjective or adverb + que for + adjective or adverb + that
Dondequiera que wherever Quienquiera que whoever
¿Hubo algo que …? There was something that …? Siempre que provided that, as long as
¿Hubo alguien que …? There was someone who …?
Example:

Yo habría ido donde quiera que ustedes hubieran decidido ir de vacaciones. No era necesario que me esperaran para tomar la decisión.
I would have gone wherever you have decided to go on vacation. It was not necessary to wait for me to make the decision.

¿Habría alguien que hubiera visto el accidente?
Would someone have seen the accident?

¿Hubo alguien que hubiera preguntado por mí, mientras estuve afuera?
Did anyone ask for me while I was away?

Compraría ese pastel siempre que hubiera sido de chocolate.
I would buy this cake as long as it had been made of chocolate.

Negative clause (negative background)

A grammatical sentence that contradicts (or negates) all or part of the meaning of a sentence.

Example:

No + verb + noun + que No + verb + noun + that No hubo ningún + noun + que There was no + noun + that
No hubo + noun + que There was no + noun + que No hubo ninguna / ningunas / ningunos + noun + que There was no + noun + that
No hubo nada que There was nothing that No hubo ninguno que There was no one that
No hubo nadie que There was no one that No pudo ser que It could not be that
Example:

En la historia no hubo ningún clima que hubiera afectado tanto al planeta como este.
In history there was no climate that could have affected the planet so much like this.

No podría pensar en un carro que hubiera sido construìdo en Guatemala, pues este país no cuenta con una buena tecnología para hacerlo.
I couldn’t think of a car that had been built in Guatemala, because this country does not have a good technology to do it.

En la tienda no hubo ningún vestido que me hubiera gustado. Creo que regresaré otro día.
In the store there was no dress I would have liked. I’ll come back another day.

The “Si” Conditional – (if)

We use the “si” conditional + the past perfect subjunctive + a conditional form to express an action contrary to reality. This is made in the past towards the future in the past. Using the following formula:

Si + Past Perfect Subjunctive + Conditional Perfect = expresses a past idea toward a future in the past

Example:

Si nosotros no hubiéramos venido a Guatemala, habríamos ido a Europa, pero ahora ya estamos en Guatemala.
If we had not come to Guatemala, we would have gone to Europe, but now we are in Guatemala.

Si yo hubiera hecho mi tarea, la maestra no me habría castigado.
If I had done my homework, the teacher would not have punished me.

Si él me hubiera dicho la verdad desde el principio, nos habríamos evitado muchos problemas.
If he had told me the truth from the beginning, we would have avoided many problems.

Si yo hubiera comido antes de salir de casa, tal y como me lo dijo mi mamá, no habría tenido dolor de estómago durante mi examen.
If I had eaten before leaving home, as my mother told me, I would not have had stomach pain during my exam.

Si yo hubiera visto el accidente me habría muerto del susto.
If I had seen the accident I would have died of fright.

Si Victoria hubiera tenido la llave, ella habría abierto la maleta.
If Victoria had had the keys, she would have opened the suitcase.

Si hubieran sido más cuidadosos, no habrían perdido su teléfono celular.
If they had been more careful, they wouldn’t have lost their cell phone.

We use the “si” conditional + the past perfect subjunctive, + a conditional, to express an action contrary to reality. This is made in the past toward a present or future, using the following formula:

Si + Past Perfect Subjunctive + Conditional = expresses a past idea toward a present or future.

Example:

Si ella hubiera comprado los boletos a tiempo, mañana iríamos al concierto, pero ya no hay boletos.
If she had bought the tickets on time, tomorrow we would go to the concert, but there are already no tickets.

Si yo hubiera buscado más por el internet, habría encontrado la informacion.
If I had looked more through the Internet, I could have found the information.

The above formula is used to describe actions contrary to the reality and of which depends on an action that would or could have happened – if the previous action was different.

More examples:

Si Roberto hubiera dado buenos consejos yo habrìa puesto atención.
If Roberto had given good advice, I would have paid attention.

Habría sido menos dolorosa la situación, si ellos hubieran estado en ese momento con ella, fue una terrible perdida.
It would have been a less painful situation, if they had been in that moment with her; it was a terrible loss.

Si tú hubieras querido, él habría hecho por ti lo que fuera, él te amaba mucho.
If you had wanted, he would have done anything for you; he loved you a lot.

¿Qué habrías hecho tú, si hubieras tenido la oportunidad de ir a estudiar al extranjero?
What would you have done, if you had the chance to go abroad to study?

Si mis amigos se hubieran divertido en la fiesta, se habrían quedado hasta el final.
If my friends had had fun in the party, they would have stayed until the end.

THE COMO SI” (AS IF)

This phrase makes the connection to compare two actions that are contrary to reality. There are no match of times or tenses, and use the following formula:

Como si + Past perfect subjunctive + Conditional Perfect = expresses a past idea

Como si + Past perfect subjunctive + Conditional = expresses a present idea

Example:

El habría expuesto el tema, como si lo hubiera hecho.
He would have exposed the subject, as if he had done it.

Si tú hubieras ido a la fiesta, él te habría hablado como si te hubiera conocido, pero se comportó como un completo extraño.
If you had been at the party, he would have spoken to you as if you had known him, but he behaved like a complete stranger.

Si ellos hubieran cometido el crimen, actuarían como si no lo hubieran hecho.
If they had committed the crime, they would act as if they had not done it.

Raquel está temblando como si hubiera visto un fantasma.
Raquel is trembling as if she had seen a ghost.

More examples:

Si tú no hubieras tenido mucho dinero ¿Habrías comprado como si fueras millonario?
If you had not had a lot of money, would you have bought it as if you were a millionaire?

Ella me hablaría como si ella hubiera estado presente en el momento de los hechos, pero no estuvo, así que no sabe de lo que está hablando.
She would talk to me as if she had been present at the moment of the incident, but she wasn’t, so she does not know what she is talking about.

Yo habría leído el libro como si me hubiera interesado, con tal de que ella estuviera contenta conmigo.
I would have read the book as if I were interested, as long as she was happy with me.

Te quejabas de la fiesta como si no te hubieras divertido.
You complained about the party as if you had not had fun.

Ustedes no le hablaron a Sara, como si ella hubiera sido la culpable.
You did not speak to Sara as if she had been guilty.