FR: conditionnel passé

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by twiglet, Feb 16, 2008.

  1. twiglet Junior Member

    England, English

    Je sais qu'en français écrit, il faut utiliser le passé simple au lieu du passé composé. Cependant, je me demandais si la même chose appliquer au conditionnel passé?

    Si quelqu'un pourrait le clarifier, je vous en serais très reconnaissant

    Je vous en remercie d'avance
  2. Enitram Senior Member

    french France
    Ce n'est pas systématique, le passé composé et le passé simple ont des emplois différents

    Tu veux dire : est-ce qu'on remplace le conditionnel par le passé simple ? A priori, je dirais non. Tu as un exemple ?
  3. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    Hello Twiglet, :)
    This is an oversimplification. Both the passé composé and the passé simple have their rightful place in formal, written French. You'll find more information in many previous discussions, like these ones.

    I'm sorry, but I do not understand your question about the past conditionnal. Are you asking if the past conditional should be transformed into some other tense when the rest of the text is written using the passé simple? :confused:
  4. twiglet Junior Member

    England, English
    Hello jann,

    I am translating an extract from a novel and I have been told to use the passé simple instead of the passé composé when translating English forms such as she waited, I walked, etc. I there wanted to know if a similar rule applied when translating sentences in the conditional past i.e. it could have been - for example, should I use a different form in French to the conditionnel passé to translate such sentences in this format?

    I know this still sounds a bit complex, but I hope it clarifies my question a little??

  5. janpol

    janpol Senior Member

    France - français
    Il existe 2 formes pour le conditionnel passé "J'aurais aimé" (passé 1ère forme), "j'eusse aimé" (2ème forme).
    La 1ère forme est incontournable : on l'utilise aussi bien à l'oral qu'à l'écrit.
    La 2ème forme n'est pas utilisée à l'oral... et elle l'est peu à l'écrit. Quand les règles de concordance exigeraient qu'on l'utilise, on emploie généralement la 1ère forme.
  6. Diggy7 Junior Member

    Switzerland, French
    Hello Twiglet!

    As Janpol said, the second form of the conditionnel passé is VERY formel. Actually, many people will laugh to tears if you use it, especially orally, and lots of people won't even understand it!!!
    Of course it doesn't mean that you should simply forget about it when learning the language. If you use it wisely and not too often, it can even be very beautiful in the written form, but some forms are really too funny!

    And as Jann said, it is an oversimplification to simply say that the past simple should be used in the written form instead of the passé composé. Sometimes the past simple will simply not "feel right" in some sentences. It is more appropriate in a story, in a narration of past events, but when you talk about something that just happened, the passé composé is much more apppropriate.

    E.g.: "I'm bleeding because I fell in the stairs" should be translated "je saigne parce que je suis tombé dans les escaliers" and never "parce que je tombai dans les escaliers".

    Now to get back to your question, it may be true that when you decide to use the past simple in a narration and that in the same sentence or paragraph you need to use the conditionnel passé, then it might be correct to stick to the second form of the conditionnel passé, to stick to the "formal aspect" of your text.
    E.g.: "He suddenly stopped walking. I asked him if we should have walked more slowly" might be translated:
    PASSE COMPOSE, USUAL : "Il s'est arrêté tout à coup. Je lui ai demandé si nous aurions dû marcher plus lentement."
    PAST SIMPLE, FORMAL : "Il s'arrêta soudain. Je lui demandai si nous eussions dû marcher plus lentement." But again, this sounds VERY formal and almost awkward.

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