Spanish Conditional Perfect Tense

Overview

The conditional perfect (condicional compuesto), is a Spanish compound tense. It is used to express possibility in the past i.e. actions the could or would have taken place. We can also express wishes or suppositions about the past.

A young girl is very upset and surprised by the condition of her hair.

The conditional perfect tense indicates what would have happened if certain circumstances came to pass. Unfortunately, it never happened. Think of it as a speculation. Example: What would have happened if you played the lottery.

Qué hubiera pasado si hubieras jugado a la lotería.

The conditional tense uses the verb “haber,” together with a verb in past participle. To form the past participle of the verbs, remove the endings “ar,”

“er,” “ir,” and add “ado,” for ar-er verbs and “ido” for “ir” verbs.

Ellos habrían comprado más comida, si hubieran tenido más dinero.

They would have bought more food, if they had more money.

SingularPlural
Yo habría estudiadoNosotros habríamos ayudado
Tu habrías caminadoVosotros habríais encontrado
El habría cantadoUstedes habrían comprado
Ella habría venidoEllos habrían comprado

You will use the conditional perfect tense when you want to say that you wish something had happened but did not because something got in the way.

For English we write: “would have” + verb. For Spanish we write: habría + verb

Yo habría vendido mi bote, si la gente lo hubiera visto. (vender)

I would have sold my boat, if people would have seen it.

Ella habría trabajado, pero estaba cansada. She would have worked, but she was tired.(trabajar)

Another way the conditional perfect tense is used, is when something was likely to happen or might have happened.

Escuchar

El hubiera escuchado.

He would have listened

Ser

Habría sido Noviembre cuando se murió tu tía

It might have been November when your aunt died.

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The conditional is a structure that we use to express possibility or probability, wishes, excuses, and even suggestions or requests. It can also be used to talk about things we would do, if a certain action happens (ie. hypothetical situations).

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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The CEFR is an international standard used to describe language ability. Here are specific details of the CEFR for this topic.

General Explanation:
Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.
Specific Capabilities at this Level
Writing:
I can write short, simple notes and messages relating to matters in areas of immediate needs. I can write a very simple personal letter, for example thanking someone for something.
Spoken Production:
I can use a series of phrases and sentences to describe in simple terms my family and other people, living conditions, my educational background and my present or most recent job.
Spoken Interaction:
I can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar topics and activities. I can handle very short social exchanges, even though I can’t usually understand enough to keep the conversation going myself.
Reading:
I can read very short, simple texts. I can find specific, predictable information in simple everyday material such as advertisements, prospectuses, menus and timetables and I can understand short simple personal letters.
Listening:
I can understand phrases and the highest frequency vocabulary related to areas of most immediate personal relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local area, employment). I can catch the main point in short, clear, simple messages and announcements.