Past conditional in French
The past conditional (French: le conditionnel passé) is generally used to express:
- cautious in describing events that have happened but are not yet officially confirmed
After a pluperfect verb in a 'si' clause, the past conditional is used in the main clause.
|Le ministre aurait démissioné||the minister would have resigned||cautious in describing events|
|J'aurais aimé partir avec lui||I would have liked to go with him||regret|
|Si tu avais travaillé, tu aurais réussi l'examen||if you had worked, you would have succeeded the exam||'si' clause|
The formation of the past conditional in French
The past conditional is made up of the present conditional of être or avoir and the past participle.
|present conditional to be or to have||past participle||object|
|Nous||aurions||fait||une bonne tarte|
The past conditional with 'être'
Verbs using 'être' are state verbs. They do not designate an action but a statement. The past conditional with 'être' agrees in gender and number with the noun they qualify. There are many verbs and among them you find:
|naître (to be born)||mourir (to die)||venir (to come)||aller (to go)|
|Je serais né(e)||Je serais mort(e)||Je serais venu (e)||Je serais allé(e)|
|Tu serais né(e)||Tu serais mort(e)||Tu serais venu(e)||Tu serais allé(e)|
|Il/elle/on serait né(e)||Il/elle serait mort(e)||Il/elle serait venu(e)||Il/elle serait allé(e)|
|Nous serions né(e)s||Nous serions mort(e)s||Nous serions venu(e)s||Nous serions allé(e)s|
|Vous seriez né(e)s||Vous seriez morts(e)s||Vous seriez venu(e)s||Vous seriez allé(e)s|
|Ils/elles seraient né(e)s||Ils/elles seraient morts(e)s||Ils/elle seraient venu(e)s||Ils/elles seraient allé(e)s|
Others verbs that use the auxiliary verb 'être'.
- partir (to leave)
- devenir (to become)
- tomber (to fall)
- arriver (to arrive)
- sortir (to exit)
- revenir (to come back)
- venir (to come)
- entrer (to enter)
- rester (to stay)
- retourner (to return)
The past conditional with 'avoir'
Verbs using 'avoir' are active verbs. They designate an action. The past participle conjugated with the auxiliary 'avoir' does not agree with the subject. It agrees with the Direct Object Complement if it is placed before the verb.
- ils ont acheté des pommes. (They bought apples)
- ils les ont achetées. (They bought them)
|parler (to speak)||finir (to finish)||aimer (to like)|
|j'aurais parlé||j'aurais fini||j'aurais aimé|
|tu aurais parlé||tu aurais fini||tu aurais aimé|
|il/elle/on aurait parlé||il/elle/on aurais fini||il/elle/on aurait aimé|
|nous aurions parlé||nous aurions fini||nous aurions aimé|
|vous auriez parlé||vous auriez fini||vous auriez aimé|
|ils/elles auraient parlé||ils/elles auraient fini||ils/elles auraient aimé|
You use the auxiliary 'avoir' to conjugate the past participle of 'avoir' and 'être'
- J'aurais eu (I would have had)
- J'aurais été (I would have been)
Note that you use the same form for all regular and irregular verbs.
Keep your motivation and test your knowledge about the conditional with our exercises.
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