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

Introduction to the verb devancer

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The English translation of the French verb devancer is “to surpass” or “to outdo.” It is pronounced as “duh-vahn-say” in its infinitive form.

The word devancer comes from the Latin root “devanare,” meaning “to go ahead.” In everyday French, it is most often used to describe the action of surpassing or outdoing someone or something.

In the Subjonctif Plus-que-parfait tense, which is used to express an action that happened before another action in the past, devancer is conjugated as follows:

  • Jeusse devancé(e) (I had surpassed)
  • Tuusses devancé(e)(s) (You had surpassed)
  • Il/elleusût devancé(e)(s) (He/she had surpassed)
  • Nousussions devancé(e)s (We had surpassed)
  • Vousussiez devancé(e)s (You had surpassed)
  • Ils/ellesussent devancé(e)s (They had surpassed)

Examples:

  1. Il fallait que j’eusse devancé ses attentes pour être promu. (I had to surpass his expectations to be promoted.)

  2. Si j’avais su, j’aurais devancé ma réservation d’hôtel pour avoir une meilleure chambre. (If I had known, I would have made my hotel reservation earlier to get a better room.)

  3. Elle craignait que son frère n’ait devancé son arrivée à la fête. (She was worried that her brother had arrived before her at the party.)

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

Pronoun Conjugation Example Usage English Translation
je eusse devancé Je regrette que j’eusse devancé. I regret having surpassed.
tu eusses devancé Je regrette que tu eusses devancé. I regret having surpassed.
il eût devancé Je regrette qu’il eût devancé. I regret having surpassed.
elle eût devancé Je regrette qu’elle eût devancé. I regret having surpassed.
on eût devancé Je regrette qu’on eût devancé. I regret having surpassed.
nous eussions devancé Je regrette que nous eussions devancé. I regret having surpassed.
vous eussiez devancé Je regrette que vous eussiez devancé. I regret having surpassed.
ils eussent devancé Je regrette qu’ils eussent devancé. I regret having surpassed.
elles eussent devancé Je regrette qu’elles eussent devancé. I regret having surpassed.

Other Conjugations for Devancer.

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

    Imparfait (Imperfect) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb devancer
   

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Devancer – 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.

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