Subjunctive – Pluperfect

hablar  to speak
yo hubiera hablado nosotros/as hubiéramos hablado
tú hubieras hablado  
él/ella/usted hubiera hablado
ellos/as/ustedes hubieran hablado

Formation

The pluperfect subjunctive (pluscuamperfecto subjuntivo) is formed with:

the past (or imperfect) subjunctive of the auxiliary verb haber + the past participle of the main verb.

Ella hubiera sido mejor presidenta yo creo que la otra muchacha.
She would have been a better president than the other girl, I think.

Uses

The pluperfect subjunctive is normally used in dependent clauses that describe an action which precedes the action of a main clause in the past tense. The pluperfect subjunctive is introduced by the same kinds of clauses that introduce the past subjunctive. The past subjunctive, on the other hand, indicates a simultaneous action or a future action in relation to a main clause in the past tense.

Me molestó que no me hubieras comprado un regalo de cumpleaños.It bothered me that you did not buy me a birthday present.

The pluperfect subjunctive is also used in some hypothetical clauses with si (if) along with the  past conditional.

Si hubiera estudiado más, habría sacado notas mejores.If I had studied more, I would have got better grades.

Sometimes, when the result clause refers to something still valid in the present or to a general statement, the past conditional can be replaced by the (simple) conditional.

Si hubiera estudiado más, ahora tendría un trabajo mejor.If I had studied more, I would have a better job now.

However, in spoken Spanish, the past conditional or the simple conditional are often replaced by the pluperfect subjunctive for this kind of hypothetical clauses. The resulting structure would be in such cases a sentence containing two pluperfect subjunctive verbs.

Si yo te hubiera dicho que no hablo inglés, me hubieras despedido.
If I had told you that I do not speak English, you would have fired me.

For more details about hypothetical clauses see also the page about si clauses.

For more uses of this tense see also the page about tense sequences.