When to use the Conditionnel Passé: the Ultimate Guide in 2021

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In this French grammar lesson we will learn about when to use the conditionnel passé.

In this lesson you will learn about:

  • when to use the conditionnel passé
  • how the conditionnel passé is used in sentences
  • how you can quiz yourself on when to use the conditionnel passé
  • how to practice with flashcards on when to use the conditionnel passé
  • how and why you should use the courses of Language Atlas to learn French

Please refer to the French B2 Curriculum to get a better overview of French grammar, if you are curious about how this fits in the overall structure of French B2.

Please also read how to form the conditionnel passé, to find out how you can form it.

By the end of the lesson you will know all about when to use the conditionnel passé!

Table of Contents

When to use the Conditionnel Passé

There are 2 cases when you would use the conditionnel passé.

  1. Express regret or disapproval
  2. When a past condition is implied (si clause)

We will handle all of them, and examples will be given for all of them.

Express Regret or Disapproval

You will use the conditionnel passé to express regret or disapproval.

aimer

J’aurais aimé la rencontrer.

I would have liked to meet her.

devoir

Vous auriez dû m’appeler.

You should have called me.

In the first example someone is expressing regret.

In the second example someone is expressing a disapproval.

When a Condition is Implied (si clause)

You will use the conditionnel passé when a past condition is implied.

Please have a look at the following conditional sentence.

Si elle était restée là-bas, il l’aurait rencontré.

If she had stayed there, he would have met him.

If she had stayed there [the condition], then he would met him.

Because a condition is implied, you have to use the conditionnel passé in the following clause.

Please note that you have to use the plus-que-parfait to imply the condition.

The construction for conditional sentences looks like this:

  • [si + plus-que-parfait] + conditionnel passé

Si j’avais eu plus d’argent, je serais allé à Paris,

If I’d had more money, I would have gone to Paris,

Si vous m’aviez aidé, j’aurais fini plus tôt.

If you had helped me, I would have finished earlier.

It’s also fine the flip this construction:

  • conditionnel passé + [si + plus-que-parfait]

Nous serions partis, si vous aviez eu besoin de nous.

We would have left, if you had needed us.

There are a lot of these “if-then” sentences in French.

It’s important to know this construction well.

Example Sentences on When to use the Conditionnel Passé

The final section of this lesson on when to use the conditionnel passé is about seeing the conditionnel passé in action.

This is valuable because you can improve your understanding of when to use the conditionnel passé through examples.

aimer

J’aurais aimé la rencontrer.

I would have liked to meet her.

devoir

Vous auriez dû m’appeler.

You should have called me.

Si elle était restée là-bas, il l’aurait rencontré.

If she had stayed there, he would have met him.

Si j’avais eu plus d’argent, je serais allé à Paris,

If I’d had more money, I would have gone to Paris,

Si vous m’aviez aidé, j’aurais fini plus tôt.

If you had helped me, I would have finished earlier.

Nous serions partis, si vous aviez eu besoin de nous.

We would have left, if you had needed us.

Quiz Yourself on When to use the Conditionnel Passé

At the end of every lesson you can do a small quiz.

You will see the sentences of the previous chapter.

You will either need to fill in the blanks, choose the correct multiple choice option, or both.

Once you are done the correct answer will be shown.

You can redo the quiz as many times as you want!

How to Practice With Flashcards for This Lesson

Using flashcards is an absolute necessity when it comes to learning a language!

It is the best way to memorize what you learn, you can personalize your progression because it adapts to your actions, and all flashcards have audio to improve your hearing and pronunciation.

Please read our article on how to learn a new language for more information.

There are two ways to practice with Flashcards for this lesson.

  1. Anki
  2. The Flashcards in our Courses

After you have downloaded Anki for free, you can get our French B2 Anki Deck.

This Anki Deck contains 1,964 flashcards with which you can practice absolutely everything for French B2!

All the flashcards have text, images, explanations, and audio.

You can also use our courses that have flashcards integrated alongside lessons with audio, quizzes and much more!

However, I am sure you are wondering, what are your courses, and why should I take them?

The Courses of Language Atlas

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So I thought, “why not make something myself?“.

Using my experience and by doing research I created Language Atlas, a platform where people can learn French and Spanish in the most effective and efficient way.

I created free lessons and quizzes so that there would always be a easy and accessible way for people to learn or brush up on their language skills.

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