1

I recently learned that futur antérieur can mean the possibility of the past, and I saw this new sentence.

  • Il a donc quitté le village après ça ? Sa fierté aurait-elle été blessée ?

I believe that this conditionnel passé is not a true conditional but means a possibility of the past just in a similar way to the above sentence. So what is the difference between using futur antérieur and conditionnel passé in this sentence?

  • Il a donc quitté le village après ça ? Sa fierté aura-t-elle été blessée ?
  • What do you mean this conditionnel passé is not a true conditional ? Conditionnel passé has several uses, all of which (mainly describing events that did not occur or events that are just possible in the past) all of which are just as "true" (?) as the other. – Laure SO - Écoute-nous Aug 8 '17 at 7:44
3

As you're making an assumption about a past event, both are grammatically correct. However, conditionnel stresses better the idea of hypothesis.

Let me explain with your example :

  • Sa fierté aurait été blessée : you're making an assumption, but you want to stress neutrality. For instance, in a journalistic style, it implies that you take a step back from this piece of information.
  • Sa fierté aura été blessée : you're also making an assumption about a past fact, and you're implying that this must have happened.

As you're asking a question, you may not be sure about what really happened, and conditionnel conveys better this idea of uncertainty.

1

Saying futur antérieur can mean "the possibility of the past" is imho not correct or at least ambiguous, futur antérieur can be used to describe an event that could (or might) have taken place in the past, we just are not sure whether it has, it's just a possibility we consider but cannot guarantee.

The past conditional, like the present conditional, gives information on a past event about which the accuracy cannot be guaranteed, it is one of its prime uses.

Both futur antérieur and contionnel passé are used to make assumptions regarding past events about which the accuracy cannot be guaranteed. The only difference I can see between

  • Il a donc quitté le village après ça ? Sa fierté aura-t-elle été blessée ?

and

  • Il a donc quitté le village après ça ? Sa fierté aurait-elle été blessée ?

is in the degree of uncertainty expressed. Using the indicative (futur antérieur) shows the speaker has less doubts about the action actually taking place than when using the conditional (conditionnel passé).

  • The different degrees of uncertainty perceived between the two tenses are interesting, indeed. I assume this question extends to the present tense, too. Which got me thinking : in the following sentence with the adverb "sûrement" that denotes a high probability, it makes more sense to use "aura" than "aurait", I suppose? – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Aug 8 '17 at 9:30
  • "Elle aura sûrement besoin d'un peu de temps pour s'y habituer." instead of "Elle aurait sûrement besoin d'un peu de temps pour s'y habituer." – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Aug 8 '17 at 9:30
  • @Alone-zee IMHO using an adverb of probability doesn't change the degree of certainty as much as the tense except of course when using the passé composé (I do not get why you mention the present, what am I missing ?). When interpreting the sentence I would first consider the tense, and then see what the adverb adds to it. I added passé composé as an afterthought in my previous answer to the OP. Should I add something else to that effect there ? (The question including the use of peut-être) – Laure SO - Écoute-nous Aug 8 '17 at 10:20
  • Hi. I'd be interested in knowing how you think about "Ça les aurait sûrement fait hésiter un peu" vs "Ça les aura sûrement fait hésiter un peu". :) – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Aug 8 '17 at 10:34
  • @Alone-zee aurait fait as less likely than aura fait, to me adding the same adverb to both does not change the absolute difference between the two. – Laure SO - Écoute-nous Aug 8 '17 at 10:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.