How to Use the French Past Conditional + Chart with Examples

Knowing how to use the French past conditional, also known as le conditionnel passé, is important for many reasons, and here are the top two:

  1. Expressing hypothetical actions in the past: Firstly, the past conditional is used to express hypothetical actions or events that would have occurred in the past under certain conditions. It allows you to talk about what might have happened if certain circumstances would have been different. This is particularly useful in storytelling or discussing hypothetical scenarios.
  2. Talking about conditional outcomes in the past: Secondly, when discussing conditional situations in the past, the past conditional is used to describe the outcome that would have resulted from a certain condition. It helps to convey the consequences of hypothetical actions or events. For instance, “If I had won the lottery, I would have traveled around the world.” In this case, the use of the past conditional illustrates the hypothetical outcome based on a specific condition.

French Past Conditional

French Past ConditionalFormation with “Avoir”Formation with “Être”Example Sentence (with “Avoir”)Example Sentence (with “Être”)
J’ / JeauraisseraisJ’aurais aimé venir à la fête hier.

I would have liked to come to the party yesterday.
Je serais venu(e) à la fête hier.

I would have come to the party yesterday.
TuauraisseraisTu aurais dû lui parler plus tôt.

You should have talked to him/her earlier.
Tu serais allé(e) à la plage hier.

You would have gone to the beach yesterday.
Il/Elle/OnauraitseraitIl aurait aimé voyager à l’étranger.

He would have like to travel abroad.
Elle serait partie en vacances hier.

She would have left on vacation yesterday.
NousaurionsserionsNous aurions dû prendre cette décision plus tôt.

We should have made (taken) this decision earlier.
Nous serions arrivé(e)s plus tôt à la réunion.

We would have arrived at the meeting earlier.
VousauriezseriezVous auriez pu nous aider hier soir.

You could have helped us last night.
Vous seriez venu(e)(s) au concert avec nous.

You would have come to the concert with us.
Ils/EllesauraientseraientIls auraient aimé participer à l’événement.

They would have liked to take part in the event.
Elles seraient restées plus longtemps à la fête.

They would have stayed longer at the party.

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