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Spanish Lesson Sixty-Five: Preterit Anterior

Updated on November 4, 2013

Good Afternoon Readers!

I hope your weekend was well! It seems like Monday comes back to us even faster than it used to. I want to thank all my readers who have stuck with these lessons from the beginning. They are my most read articles to date. So if you're joining us for the first time, don't worry, I have many lessons on the site for your access if you need to know information about several other topics. Last week we discussed Participles As Adjectives to get a good look at more Past Participles. This week, we're moving on with the Seven Compound Tenses. This is the second on the list, so you're not too behind.

This week, we're discussing the Preterit Anterior or Preterito Anterior. This particle tense is probably the least important of the compound tenses, however, it doesn't hurt to know it should you need it. So, now, let's move on down the lesson.


  • To Learn and Understand the use of the Preterit Anterior
  • To Conjugate the verb haber in the preterit
  • To Recognize when to use the Preterit Anterior
  • To Differentiate between the Preterit Anterior and Indicative Pluscuamperfecto

Have You Use The Perfect Indicative Yet?

See results

Compound Tense #2

Within the reference I use (501 Essential Spanish Verbs), the Preterit Anterior is written as the third compound tense. I simply work on preterit tenses first before Imperfect. It would seem, probably, that the Imperfect is used quite a bit more often. Though, for me personally, I tend to use the preterit. Or perhaps I just don't tell that many stories or discuss weather in the past. I suppose the issue of not knowing is in part of not speaking as much. Here's a tip: Speak as much as possible.

I have several native speaking friends who are completely and utterly impressed with my Spanish. My written grammar is probably better than most Spanish speakers. One must consider the heavy grammar emphasis we learn here in the U.S. My speaking is pretty good too, but it takes longer than I'd liked to figure out how to say something. Though, strangely enough, the words just flow out naturally at times. The goal, I think, is to not think about what you need to say. Just say it.

The following tense is used more in written language, so don't worry too much about using this in speech. However, you can most definitely familiarize yourself with it so you can recognize and be able to use the tense yourself.

English Word
Spanish Equiv
La Lagrima
La Mesa
El Faro

Today's Vocabulary

Welcome to Vocabulary, Readers.

The last few weeks, the vocabulary has been different according to the theme. Since we have a grammar theme this week, let's learn some obscure. What I mean by obscure, is words that aren't well-known. I know a lot of people don't know how to say "lazy" or "unforgettable" or "Tear". So I'll put a hodgepodge list on the right of this text with a random array of words. Maybe I'll use some of them in the sample sentences. Either way, you'll learn some new words.

Also, don't forget, you can always sign up for word of the day in Spanish. Just go on Google and search "Spanish word of the day". You should be directed quite easily. You'll get a new word daily and it'll give you a chance to see more words and maybe even review some you haven't seen in quite some time. There are so many words in Spanish for the same thing, but sometimes it's not the same thing. It's one of those things about any language right? So, enjoy the listen!

Conjugating Haber In The Preterit

  • Not normally used in spoken Spanish
  • Used in formal writing (like for history and literature)
  • Used after conjugations of time like después de, cuando, apenas, luego que, and en cuanto

Using The Preterit Anterior

Hey Readers!

Thanks for reading today. Just wanted to make you all aware that these lessons will continue up until #100. There will be a celebration and then we shall move on to another language. Another language, unfortunately, would be a challenge for me considering I've known Spanish for so many years. Though, it could be an awesome challenge and a way to really go at the same pace as others who are learning for the first time. I want to do Portuguese. I have a large Portuguese following on Twitter... so I don't know. Anyone have any suggestions?

Anyway, as you can see above, there is a chart on conjugating the verb haber into the preterit. Basically, every compound tense involves haber as the root verb and then a past participle to complete the thought. Considering that this tense is the preterit anterior, Haber is conjugated into the preterit tense. To know more about this tense, check out the info box on the right.

Antes de hubo salido, besamos. Before she had left, we kissed. If you're going to use this tense, make sure a conjugation of time is used. Otherwise, you're better off using the Pluperfect (Perfect Indicative). That particular tense is much more common in spoken Spanish.

The Pluperfect will be the next tense learned and will mirror the English translations. The pluperfect uses the Imperfect as the primary past tense and thus is used much more often. This tense, the Preterit Anterior, is used in formal writing like for History or Literature. There isn't much need to pay it too much mind. Though it is always necessary to learn how to conjugate verbs in every tense. This lessons needs no more instruction. If I find any other pertinent information to add, I will edit this article. Thanks for reading!

Oh! Next week! We're going to discuss Pedir Vs. Preguntar. Come on back for that one!


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