French Passé Conditionelle

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  • Topic: Conditional sentence, Conditional mood, Subjunctive mood
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  • Published : April 30, 2013
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The Past Conditional Tense

The past conditional tense consists of the conditional of the auxiliary, either avoir or être, and the past participle (I would have spoken, finished, gone, etc.).

Parler| |
J’aurais parlé| Nous aurions parlé|
Tu aurais parlé| Vous auriez parlé|
Il/elle/on aurait parlé| Ils/elles auraient parlé|
Descendre| |
Je serais descendu(e)| Nous serions descendu(e)s|
Tu serais descendu(e)| Vous seriez descendu(e)(s)|
Il/elle/on serait descendu(e)| Ils/elles seraient descend(e)s|

Uses of the Past Conditional Tense

The past conditional is most commonly used in conditional sentences that present hypotheses contrary to facts in the past, in other words, what would have taken place.

Fact
Jean n’est pas venu. On ne l’a donc pas vu Jean didn’t come. That’s why we didn’t see him Contrary-to-fact conditional sentence
Si Jean était venu, on l’aurait vu. If Jean had come, we would have seen him.

Fact
Je me suis réveillé tard. C’est pour ça que je ne suis pas arrivé à l’heure. I woke up late. That’s why I didn’t arrive on time. Contrary-to-fact conditional sentence
Si je m’étais pas réveillé tard, je serais arrivé à l’heure. If I hadn’t woken up late, I would have arrived on time.

The past conditional is used in reported speech to refer to completed actions in the future.

Elle a dit qu’avant vendredi elle les aurait aides. She said that before Friday she would have helped them.

The past conditional is also used to express allegations in the past

Le cambrioleur aurait travaillé avec des complices. The burglar allegedly worked with accomplices.
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