https://www.duolingo.com/Pickletoepi

Le Plus-Que-Parfait?

I know how the Plus-Que-Parfait tense is used in French for the most part. I also know that the Passé Simple tense is a literary tense and not used in everyday speech. What I don't know is why the Passé Antérieur is used instead of the Plus-Que-Parfait when preceding the Passé Simple (when we do indeed use it).

Take the sentence: Dès qu'il eut bu son café, il partit au travail.

Here, we're talking about a past action that happened before another action, also in the past. We're talking about the order that things happened, so shouldn't we use the Plus-Que-Parfait? What's the real difference between the Passé Antérieur and the Plus-Que-Parfait? They seem to be, both conceptually and when literally translated, the same thing.

Any insight is greatly appreciated! Merci d'avance!

-Pickletoepi

P.S. After a bit of research I'm tending to find that people say that the Passé Antérieur is used because the event happening takes place over a shorter period of time, or not habitually. Is this true?

March 25, 2018

2 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/peterviuz

In a novel, you will read: "Dès qu'il eut bu son café, il partit au travail." This, as you know, is Passé Antérieur ("eut"- passé simple of "avoir", + past participle of "boire"). It is followed by the Passé Simple of "partir". This gives "As soon as he had finished his coffee, he left for work".

In an email or conversation, you will read/hear: "Dès qu'il avait bu son café, il est parti au travail". This is Plus-que-parfait ("avait" - Imparfait of "avoir", + past participle of "boire"). It is followed by Passé Composé of "partir". This gives "As soon as he had finished his coffee, he left for work". Exactly the same!

So, Passé Antérieur is merely the literary form of Plus-que-parfait, the same as Passé Simple is the literary form of Passé composé. It is not a difference in meaning or duration.

March 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Sparklehappy

I'm not sure if this is significantly helpful, indeed I'm still learning all the verb conjugations and when to use them, but the simplest difference between the plus-que-parfait and the passé antérieur that my high school French teacher taught me is that the plus-que-parfait uses the past tense of a verb with "have" in front of it, and the passé antérieur uses the past tense of a verb with "had" in front. So it's almost like the passé antérieur has a definite time frame over which the event occurred, because the use of "have" in plus-que-parfait implies that although the event happened in the past, it may still happen in the future (possibly habitually); which would validate your research.

I don't wanna steer you wrong though haha!

March 26, 2018
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