Conjugate devoir in Le Plus-que-parfait (pluperfect tense)

Le Plus-que-parfait in French is the direct equivalent of the Pluperfect in English. It could be described as "the past of the past":

e.g. After I had had to do my homework, I went for a walk.

Of course, English speakers are likely to make contractions: I'd had to, etc.

Look at these examples of "devoir" in the Plus-que-parfait :

J'avais en racheter un nouveau après que Patrick avait cassé le mien.
I'd had to buy a new one after Patrick had broken mine.

Tu avais  le licencier finalement.
You'd had to let him go in the end.

Si elle avait le faire, vous auriez eu des problèmes.
If she'd had to do it, you would have been in trouble.

Nous avions nettoyer la maison avant que mes parents ne vissent le désordre.
We'd had to clean the house before my parents saw the mess.

Si vous aviez , l'auriez-vous fait?
If you'd had to, would you have done it?

Elles avaient  repasser l'examen, après qu'elles avaient échoué les trois premières fois!
They'd had to take the exam again, after they'd failed the first three times!

Notice that the Plus-que-parfait of "devoir" follows this construction:

Verb avoir in the Imparfait + (past participle of devoir)

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Nous avions nettoyer la maison avant que mes parents ne vissent le désordre.
We'd had to clean the house before my parents saw the mess.


Elles avaient  repasser l'examen, après qu'elles avaient échoué les trois premières fois!
They'd had to take the exam again, after they'd failed the first three times!


Si vous aviez , l'auriez-vous fait?
If you'd had to, would you have done it?


Tu avais  le licencier finalement.
You'd had to let him go in the end.



J'avais en racheter un nouveau après que Patrick avait cassé le mien.
I'd had to buy a new one after Patrick had broken mine.


Si elle avait le faire, vous auriez eu des problèmes.
If she'd had to do it, you would have been in trouble.


Q&A

Dragana

Kwiziq community member

30 September 2018

1 reply

Conjugation of subjonctive in sentence

Nous avions dû nettoyer la maison avant que mes parents ne vissent le désordre.

What is the verb "vissent" - I can only find - voir/ils voient

Merci

Dragana

Chris

Kwiziq community member

30 September 2018

30/09/18

Hi Dragana,

vissent is subjunctive imperfect of voir. It is only used in literary French and never in the spoken language.

Pamela

Kwiziq community member

4 August 2018

2 replies

I don't understand why...

you used in the first explanation of the PQP " e.g. had had.." and yet in all your examples you used only "had" but then in the test you used "had had" as the correct answer x 2. In other tests I have noted that we do not literally take the exact translation but the appropriate translation but this one has me fooled.  What is the point of having all the examples "had" and the test "had had"?

Gruff

Kwiziq language super star

4 August 2018

4/08/18

Hi Pamela, all of the examples are in the pluperfect in English as well. 

Remember that "We had had" is usually contracted in speech to "We'd had" (and this is not the same tense as "We had").

It's very easy to miss the 'd but the apostrophe represents the 'ha' in 'had' that has been squished up (or 'elided', if we want to be technical).

So:
Si elle avait dû le faire...

If she'd  had to do it, or 

If she had had to do it,

They're equivalent.

Hope that helps!

Pamela

Kwiziq community member

4 August 2018

4/08/18

Thank you. I see what I missed. 

Alan

Kwiziq community member

27 June 2017

6 replies

No-one would use " They had had to retake the exam," in written or spoken English.

One would possibly say "They'd had to retake the exam", but the simplest form "They had to retake the exam", is the commonest usage.

Gruff

Kwiziq language super star

27 June 2017

27/06/17

Hi Alan We do use the pluperfect form in English when referring to events further back in time than a time in the past already referred to (usually when relating a story, verbally or in writing). We try to keep the questions short and so that extra context may not be apparent here so I understand why you'd suggest "they had to" but it isn't equivalent. The example would make more sense in a wider context, and so it does feel contrived because that's missing. E.g. consider: "It was revealed that they had had to retake the exam." This has a very different nuance to: "It was revealed that they had to retake the exam." This example is also complicated slightly by the fact the verb is "have to" and so you have the auxiliary "had" (needed to form the pluperfect) along with the past of "have to" which can get a little clunky.

Alan

Kwiziq community member

29 June 2017

29/06/17

I understand what you say but whilst the use of " had had" may be grammatically correct it just isn't said. Consider; "They had to retake the exam because they needed a pass to attend university", compared with "They had had to retake the exam because they needed a pass to attend university". There is perhaps a slight difference in meaning in that the latter suggests some compulsion but the sense is the same and the former is more elegant which is why everyone I have asked would use it.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

29 June 2017

29/06/17

Bonjour Alan ! I agree that you will more commonly use "I'd had" (which is simply the contracted form of had had) or even simply "I had", though the second one is losing the anteriority contained in the use of the Pluperfect = I'd had took place before I had :) I've now updated the example to "I'd had" :) Merci et à bientôt !

Beverley

Kwiziq community member

2 July 2017

2/07/17

I would use it. For example "I had had to retake the exam twice before I could apply for the course. Or "I had already had to retake the driving test twice before I bought my car".

Annie

Kwiziq community member

18 October 2018

18/10/18

This site could really be improved of the examples were reworked to make sense in both British and American English. Americans rarely use the pluperfect, and often use a time marker like "before" to avoid having to use it. Many of us don't contract "had had" with " 'd had" since the only time we use that tense in the first place is for emphasis. The second examples you gave are things that would get used in AmE, whereas the examples in the lesson are so odd as to be barely comprehensible.

Beverley

Kwiziq community member

18 October 2018

18/10/18

The lesson is not odd.  I am English.  Before my retirement I was a teacher and taught English grammar for many years.  The pluperfect may not be used often, in English, but it is grammatically correct, a valid tense (as in French) and is good English.  American English is a different language.  It would be impossible for the site to provide for the differences between American and English English.

As Aurelie said, in spoken English it would have been "I'd had...." with the apostrophe replacing the "ha" in had, but it still means "I had had....."

Gretta

Kwiziq community member

18 October 2016

1 reply

Le mot "vissent"

Je ne comprends pas le mot "vissent" dans la phrase "Nous avions dû nettoyer la maison avant que mes parents ne vissent le désordre." Je pensais que ce serait le subjonctif du verbe "voir" mais je l'ai trouvé sous le mot "visser".

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

18 October 2016

18/10/16

Bonjour Greta ! It is indeed the verb "voir" in Le Subjonctif Imparfait, which is used very rarely nowadays but perfectly correct in this sentence, regarding the Sequence of tenses. However, people would tend to use Le Subjonctif Présent nowadays, as such: "Nous avions dû nettoyer la maison avant que mes parents ne VOIENT le désordre." Both sentences are perfectly valid :) I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !
Getting that for you now.