Conditional Perfect, Second Form

French conditional perfect, 2nd form
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Conditionnel passé, seconde forme

The second form of the conditional perfect suffers from something of an identity crisis: it looks like the pluperfect subjunctive but has the value of the conditional perfect. It’s used mostly in si clauses and is a literary tense, so is found only in very formal written French.

The second form of the conditional perfect is equivalent to the conditional perfect in spoken French, shown here (in parentheses).

Par exemple…

Si vous m’aviez menti, j’eusse su.
(Si vous m’aviez menti, j’aurais su.)
  If you’d lied to me, I would have known.
J’eusse aimé vivre à Tahiti.
(J’aurais aimé vivre à Tahiti.)
  I would have liked to live in Tahiti.

Because it’s literary, you don’t need to be able to conjugate the second form of the conditional perfect, but you should learn to recognize it, especially if you read classic French literature and poetry.

Second form of the past conditional conjugations

The 2nd form of the conditional perfect is a compound verb form, which means its conjugation has two components:

  verb   conjugation
1. auxiliary (avoir or être)   imperfect subjunctive
2. main verb   past participle

Par exemple…

avoir verb   être verb   pronominal verb
donner (to give)   sortir (to go out)   s’habiller (to get dressed)
j’eusse donné   je fusse sorti(e)   je me fusse habillé(e)
tu eusses donné   tu fusses sorti(e)   tu te fusses habillé(e)
il eût donné   il fût sorti   il se fût habillé
elle eût donné   elle fût sortie   elle se fût habillée
nous eussions donné   nous fussions sorti(e)s   nous nous fussions habillé(e)s
vous eussiez donné   vous fussiez sorti(e)(s)   vous vous fussiez habillé(e)(s)
ils eussent donné   ils fussent sortis   ils se fussent habillés
elles eussent donné   elles fussent sorties   elles se fussent habillées

 The second form of the conditional perfect is identical to the pluperfect subjunctive.

  Past participle agreement

As in all compound conjugations, the past participle in the second form of the conditional perfect may need to agree in gender and number with the word it modifies – learn more.

 Related lessons

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