The French past perfect, or pluperfect, is used to indicate an action in the past that occurred before another action in the past. The latter can be either mentioned in the same sentence or implied.
Il n'avait pas mangé (avant de faire ses devoirs).
He hadn't eaten (before doing his homework).
J'ai fait du shopping ce matin ; j'avais déjà fait la lessive.
I went shopping this morning; I had already done the laundry.
J'étais déjà sorti (quand tu as téléphoné).
I had already left (when you called).
Nous voulions te parler parce que nous ne t'avions pas vu hier.
We wanted to talk to you because we didn't see you yesterday.
The pluperfect is also used in si clauses to express a hypothetical situation in the past contrary to what actually happened:
Si tu m'avais demandé, j'aurais répondu.
If you had asked me, I would have answered.
Nous y serions allés si nous avions su.
We would have gone if we had known.
Go on to page 2 to learn how to conjugate the past perfect.
Quiz: French Past Perfect