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 you can download the Anki files for when to use the conditionnel passé

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.

Test Your Knowledge on When to use the Conditionnel Passé

It’s not enough just to read the lesson on this subject.

You should test your knowledge to see if you really understood everything, and to be able to repeat the material.

It is also for this reason that it is recommended to download the Anki Decks and do them.

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

You will see the sentences of the previous chapter. It is up to you to give the correct answer.

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 test as many times as you want. There’s no limit to it!

Anki File for When to use the Conditionnel Passé

It is important to do the Anki excercises for this lesson, so that you can remember what you just studied.

By downloading the Anki File for French B2 you can practice every French B2 lesson that is on Language Atlas.

At this moment the Anki File for this lesson doesn’t exist yet. However, in due time this will be available on Language Atlas.

If you don’t know why you should use Anki, or don’t know how to use Anki or merge Anki files please click here.

Anki can be downloaded from here.

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