Subjonctif Plus-que-parfait (Subjunctive Pluperfect) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb aspecter

Introduction to the verb aspecter

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The English translation of the French verb aspecter is “to look at” or “to observe”. It is pronounced as “aspɛkte”.

Aspecter comes from the Latin word “aspectare”, meaning “to look at” or “to observe”. In everyday French, it is most often used in the Subjonctif Plus-que-parfait tense, which expresses a hypothetical action in the past.

Here are three simple examples of aspecter in the Subjonctif Plus-que-parfait tense, with their respective English translations:

  1. Nous aurions aimé que tu aies aspecté les étoiles la nuit dernière. (We would have liked for you to have looked at the stars last night.)

  2. Il était surpris que vous eussiez aspecté les oiseaux si longtemps. (He was surprised that you had looked at the birds for so long.)

  3. J’aurais préféré que tu eusses aspecté le paysage plutôt que de regarder ton téléphone. (I would have preferred for you to have looked at the scenery rather than looking at your phone.)

Table of the Subjonctif Plus-que-parfait (Subjunctive Pluperfect) Tense Conjugation of aspecter

Pronoun Conjugation Example Usage English Translation
je eusse aspecté J’aurais aimé que je eusse aspecté. I wish I had inspected.
tu eusses aspecté J’aurais aimé que tu eusses aspecté. I wish you had inspected.
il eût aspecté J’aurais aimé qu’il eût aspecté. I wish he had inspected.
elle eût aspecté J’aurais aimé qu’elle eût aspecté. I wish she had inspected.
on eût aspecté J’aurais aimé qu’on eût aspecté. I wish one had inspected.
nous eussions aspecté J’aurais aimé que nous eussions aspecté. I wish we had inspected.
vous eussiez aspecté J’aurais aimé que vous eussiez aspecté. I wish you had inspected.
ils eussent aspecté J’aurais aimé qu’ils eussent aspecté. I wish they had inspected.
elles eussent aspecté J’aurais aimé qu’elles eussent aspecté. I wish they had inspected.

Other Conjugations for Aspecter.

   
    Le Present (Present Tense) Conjugation of the French Verb aspecter
   

    Imparfait (Imperfect) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb aspecter
   

    Passé Simple (Simple Past) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb aspecter
   

    Passé Composé (Present Perfect) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb aspecter
   

    Futur Simple (Simple Future) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb aspecter
   

    Futur Proche (Near Future) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb aspecter
   

    Plus-que-parfait (Pluperfect) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb aspecter
   

    Passé Antérieur (Past Anterior) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb aspecter

    Futur Antérieur (Future Anterior) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb aspecter

    Subjonctif Présent (Subjunctive Present) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb aspecter

    Subjonctif Passé (Subjunctive Past) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb aspecter
   

    Subjonctif Imparfait (Subjunctive Imperfect) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb aspecter

    Subjonctif Plus-que-parfait (Subjunctive Pluperfect) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb aspecter
   

    Conditionnel Présent (Conditional Present) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb aspecter
   

    Conditionnel Passé (Conditional Past) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb aspecter

    L’impératif Présent (Imperative Present) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb aspecter

    L’infinitif Présent (Infinitive Present) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb aspecter
    (this article)

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Aspecter – About the French Subjonctif Plus-que-parfait (Subjunctive Pluperfect) Tense

The French Subjonctif Plus-que-parfait, also known as the Pluperfect Subjunctive, is a verb tense used to express actions or states that occurred before another action in the past, and it’s used in situations where the indicative mood is in the past subjunctive or conditional mood.
NOTE: To take a deep dive into all the French tenses then see my article on Mastering French Tense Conjugation.

Formation

To form the Subjonctif Plus-que-parfait, you start with the imperfect subjunctive form of the auxiliary verb “avoir” or “être,” followed by the past participle of the main verb. 
For “avoir” verbs: Take the imperfect subjunctive form of “avoir” (e.g., j’eusse, tu eusses, il/elle eût, nous eussions, vous eussiez, ils/elles eussent). Add the past participle of the main verb. 
For “être” verbs: Take the imperfect subjunctive form of “être” (e.g., je fusse, tu fusses, il/elle fût, nous fussions, vous fussiez, ils/elles fussent). Add the past participle of the main verb.

Common Everyday Usage Patterns

Hypothetical Situations

The Subjonctif Plus-que-parfait is often used to express hypothetical or unreal actions that occurred before another past action.
For example: J’aurais aimé que tu aies fini ton travail avant que je sois arrivé. (I would have liked for you to have finished your work before I arrived.) 

Reported Speech

In reported speech, you may use the Subjonctif Plus-que-parfait to convey what someone said or thought in the past. 
For example: Il m’a dit qu’il avait peur que je n’aie pas compris. (He told me that he was afraid that I hadn’t understood.) 

Doubt, Wishes, and Emotions

This tense can also be used to express doubt, wishes, and emotions about past actions. 
For example: Je doutais qu’il eût dit la vérité. (I doubted that he had told the truth.) 
J’aurais souhaité que tu fusses venu. (I would have wished for you to have come.)

Interactions with Other Tenses

Present Subjunctive

The Subjonctif Plus-que-parfait can be used to describe past actions when the main verb is in the present subjunctive. 
For example: “Il faut que j’aie fini mon travail avant que tu partes.” (I must have finished my work before you leave.) 

Imperfect Subjunctive

It’s common to use the Subjonctif Plus-que-parfait with the imperfect subjunctive in complex sentences. 
For example: “Il m’avait dit qu’il fût rentré avant la fin de la journée.” (He had told me that he had returned before the end of the day.) 

Conditional

When the main verb is in the conditional mood, the Subjonctif Plus-que-parfait can be used to express past unreal conditions. 
For example: “Si j’avais su, j’aurais voulu que tu aies réussi.” (If I had known, I would have wanted you to have succeeded.)

Summary

The Subjonctif Plus-que-parfait is a complex tense used to convey nuanced meanings in French. While its usage may seem intricate, it becomes more intuitive with practice and exposure to the language. It’s important to understand the context in which it’s used, as it often conveys subtleties of time, conditionality, and emotion in French sentences.

I hope you enjoyed this article on the verb aspecter. Still in a learning mood? Check out another TOTALLY random French verb conjugation!

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