The Conditional Perfect tense in Spanish (“Condicional Perfecto”) is a used to talk about something that would have happened, if only a condition had been fulfilled (but it wasn’t).
We will study its conjugation first, and then talk about its uses.
The Conditional Perfect is built with 2 words:
– The first word is the verb “haber” conjugated in Conditional tense, for the proper person.
– The second word is the Past Participle of our main verb.
|yo||habría||... + Participle of the main verb|
About the Past Participle, at this point you probably have no problems building it. In any case, if you need to review that, you can find it here in our post about the Past Perfect, another tense that also uses the Past Participle.
Here are two examples, the full conjugations for the verbs “bailar” and “comer”.
For “bailar” (= to dance), how do we express “would have danced?”. Like this:
For “comer” (= to eat), how do we express “would have eaten?”. Like this:
We use Conditional Perfect to talk about something that would have happened, if only a condition had been fulfilled (but it wasn’t).
In a way, we are speculating about something that is not possible anymore. It WOULD HAVE happened, but something got in the way and it didn’t. That’s what make this tense different to others, mainly to the other Conditional (just called “Conditional”).
A simple trick for beginners is just to trust that if the English says “WOULD HAVE + verb”, it’s time to use Conditional Perfect.
If you had told me, I would have acted different. = Si me lo hubieras contado, habría actuado de otra forma.
(I would have acted different, but it didn’t happen).
If we had done the homework, we would have impressed our teacher. = Si hubiéramos hecho las tareas, habríamos impresionado a nuestro profesor.
(We would have, but we didn’t).