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Latin for Duolingo: Verbs, Pluperfect Tense

Salvete omnes! Welcome back to Latin for Duolingo. This is an ongoing, unofficial course in Latin; if you would like to catch up with previous lessons, you can find a directory, a classified vocabulary list, and Memrise courses at these links:

Now that students are back in school, we will start to focus on verbs in this course once again. Nothing says “back to school” like Latin verbs to memorize and conjugate! This lesson will focus on the Pluperfect tense. This tense is part of the “perfect system,” formed off of the “perfect stem” which is derived from the 3rd principal part. We have studied the perfect tense already, starting in this lesson: Perfect Tense 1 Perfect tense can be translated “I verbed, I have verbed, I did verb.”

The Pluperfect tense expresses action “plus quam perfectum”, more than complete, or action that happened even before another prior action. In English we use “had” as a helping verb. The Pluperfect endings are added to the perfect stem and are very regular, identical to the imperfect tense of the being verb “sum” (eram, eras, erat, eramus, eratis, erant):

vocaveram = I had called
vocaveras = you had called
vocaverat = he, she, it had called
vocaveramus = we had called
vocaveratis = you (pl.) had called
vocaverant = they had called

Pluperfect tense frequently shows up in complex sentences, but our sentences will be somewhat limited at first. Near the end of this lesson are some sentences adapted from Latin literature that are a little longer. Also, not to discourage anyone, but many types of sentence constructions require the tenses of the subjunctive, which we haven’t even begun to study yet.

As always, it is very helpful to review verbs with all four principal parts together, so you can easily call to mind the 3rd principal part that yields the perfect stem.

New Vocabulary
nondum = not yet
redeo, redire, redivi, reditus (irreg.) = return, go back

New Sentences
Librum jam legeram. = I had already read the book.
Nuntium audiveramus. = We had heard the message.
Paulam vocaveram. = I had called Paula.
Leonem numquam viderat. = He had never seen a lion.
Marcus epistulam jam miserat. = Marcus had already sent the letter.
Libros magistrae dederamus. = We had given the books to the teacher.
Nondum adveneratis. = You (pl.) had not yet arrived.
Ibi diu habitaverant. = They had lived there for a long time.
Eos adjuveras (adjuveratis). = You had helped them.
Puella stolam novam voluerat. = The girl had wanted a new dress.
Marcus in Romā quattuor dies fuerat. = Marcus had been in Rome for four days.
Discipuli fuerant. = They had been students.
Domum rediveramus. = We had returned home.
Fugere potueramus. = We had been able to run away.
Lucia malam fortunam habuerat. = Lucia had had bad luck.
Gaius ad urbem unde venerat redivit. = Gaius returned to the city whence he had come (from which he had come).
Ad locum quo claves posueram redivi. = I returned to the place where I had put the keys.
Pecuniam quam in raedā inveneram amisi. = I lost the money that I had found in the car.
Non comederat panem neque biberat aquam tribus diebus. = He had not eaten bread or drunk water for three days.
Luciam rogaverant, sed dixerat se occupatam esse. = They had asked Lucia, but she had said that she was busy.
Post eius mortem nihilo minus Helvetii id quod constituerant facere conantur, ut e finibus suis exeant. = After his death the Helvetians try nonetheless that which they had decided, in order to go out from their territory. (From Caesar’s de Bello Gallico book 1, literally translated; his convention was to use historical present, which I usually translate as past tense. A peek at the end of the present subjunctive, with what I call the “weird vowel.”)
...cum una legione, quae in eorum finibus hiemaverat... = ...with one legion, which had spent the winter in their territory... (also from Caesar, book 6, with just the relevant pluperfect verb snipped out from a much longer sentence)

If you have questions or comments about this lesson, please leave them in the form of a comment below. Next lesson will cover some more pluperfect forms, particularly deponent verbs. Gratias et valete!

Next lesson: Pluperfect tense lesson 2

September 8, 2017



Yes Latin in a dead language, but you my friend really know what you are doing. Have you tried contacting Duolingo itself trying to see if they put this course in? Like for Ex. if people were trying to learn English, the Latin course would help them out a ton!


At the moment Latin does not appear to be a priority for Duolingo, but I and the many others who have applied in the incubator are hopeful that it could change soon. I would certainly be willing to help to the best of my ability in making a Latin course become reality. In the meantime, I hope as many people as possible can benefit from this unofficial version!


Great work as always :D


Thanks for the post. I am keen on learning Latin roots as they are beneficial to me by strengthening my English and Spanish.

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