Is there any difference between the past perfect and pluperfect tense?

Please help me understand using the example below:

As I got replies, I have modified my answers as "C". Let me know if it is correct

Conversation 1

A) You need to call him
B) I had called him.
c) I had called him. But he didn't pick up my phone.

Conversation 2

A) Why are you so upset?
B) I had ordered this dress online. But this is not the same which I had ordered.
C) I had ordered this dress online 2 days back. But yesterday when I opened the box I realized that this is not same which I had ordered.

Are the replies given by B) correct?

As per my understanding, the past perfect tense is used to tell 'past of past' and the pluperfect tense is used to tell completed action in the past irrespective of another action.

  • 1
    Past Perfect is Pluperfect. Both replies given in sentences (b) are incorrect. You don't need to use the Past Perfect unless there's a mention of "two pasts", with one past earlier than another. Commented Dec 14, 2015 at 6:29
  • @CopperKettle But if he doesn't need them, then they are not necessarily incorrect, right? The replies are weird but I've seen them in use.
    – Schwale
    Commented Dec 14, 2015 at 11:20
  • According to dictionary.com pluperfect and past perfect tense is the same and does not have any difference.
    – user27752
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 19:09

3 Answers 3


First past perfect and pluperfect refer to the same tense. They are synonyms. Look up pluperfect in any dictionary to verify this. Here at onelook dictionary are more than two dozen dictionaries to get you started.

Second, please see this answer to When is the past perfect exactly needed? It does a terrific job of stating when the past perfect (or pluperfect--they mean the same thing) is necessary.

In general your sentence 1B is grammatical, but it represents rather an incomplete thought. And it is not necessary to use the past perfect/pluperfect tense here. The present perfect or simple past would both be better choices, because they would not represent incomplete thoughts.

Your 1C adds more information to the response but still either the present perfect or simple past would be more common. You don't need the past perfect/pluperfect there because it is clear from logic which past action happened first, namely that you called him first.

In 2B, there is no reason for using the past perfect/pluperfect tense. The simple past is fine. You mention only one past action. And in fact both uses of the verb order refer to that same past action. It would seem strange to think that one occurrence of the same past action can come before another occurrence of the same!

The first sentence of 2C is grammatical But by itself gives an incomplete thought. There is only one past action mentioned, and it occurs two days back. Thus the simple past is better here because you are talking about one action completed in the past. Having us wait until the second sentence to hear the most recent past action (Yesterday when I opened the box) makes it awkward.

The second sentence of 2C is the only sentence in which the past tense/pluperfect tense is used in a way that is intended. You have two actions and you place one of them before the first one. This is pleasant sounding and appropriate.

For example sentences and a much better explanation, see the answer I link to above. And thanks for asking such a good question.

  • The second sentence of 2C is indeed a good usage of past perfect. It describes a point of time in the past in which something (ordering the dress) was already complete (perfect). The first sentence would be more logical in past simple ("I ordered..."). And... thanks for the link! Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 19:32

I don't think there's any need for the Past Perfect in these situations as they are both connected with present.

You need to call him.- I have already done it.(called ).

The second situation shows the result seen now.

Why are you upset? – I have ordered this dress online. But it isn't quite what I have ordered .


Pluperfect is derived from the Latin term. In Latin it was plusquamperfect (more than perfect). "Past perfect" is the more systematic English term. It often happens in grammar terminology that we have two terms for the same thing.

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