Conditional Perfect in Spanish

Instructor: Ashley Zehel

Ashley has a M.A. in Spanish as well as a B.S. in Foreign Language Education. She has taught K-12 and now teaches college level.

The conditional perfect is used to tell what would have happened under certain circumstances. It uses the conditional tense of 'haber' combined with a past participle. What would have happened if you knew this sooner? Come find out as we look at how to form this tense!

The Conditional Perfect

What would have happened if you placed that bet, took that spontaneous trip, or if you had met a certain someone? While all of these circumstances are hypothetical, meaning they never happened, it can be fun to speculate and dream! This is where the conditional perfect comes in. This tense is used to tell what would have happened, but did not.

The conditional tense can be used to wonder, ponder, and think!

Forming the Conditional Perfect

The conditional perfect uses the conditional tense of the verb haber along with a verb in the past participle form.

Haber in the conditional
yo habría nosotros/as habríamos
habrías vosotros/as habríais
él, ella, usted habría ellos, ellas, ustedes habrían

To form past participles, remove the -ar, -er, or -ir ending of the verb. Add -ado to -ar verbs and -ido to -er/-ir verbs. There are also a few irregular past participle forms.

The conditional perfect tense looks a little something like this:

Yo habría preferido un helado en vez de una paleta. I would have preferred an ice cream instead of a popsicle.

Ellos habrían llevado alguna comida si hubiera más cajitas. They would have taken some food with them if there were more to-go boxes.

Common Uses of the Conditional Perfect

Since we're talking about what would have happened, but didn't, there are some key phrases and moods that are often used with the conditional perfect.

For example, you might say something would have happened, but something else occurred that prevented it.

  • pero - but

Tú habrías ganado, pero el otro jugador corrió más rápido. You would have won, but the other player ran faster.

You might also say that something would have happened if something else were the case. After using the word if in Spanish with the conditional perfect, the past subjunctive is often used because it brings in a hypothetical that did not occur.

  • si - if (Please note that there is no accent mark. with an accent over the i means ''yes'')

No habría venido a tu casa si hubiera sabido que fuiste de compras. I wouldn't have come to your house if I would have known that you went shopping.

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