Expressing reproaches in Spanish, as in all languages, is usually very stimulating for the person who give them, but very frustrating for the person who receives them. A reproach is a recrimination, a way of reminding someone of an action they did wrong in the past. In short, what our parents, teachers and friends have always done.

Likewise, expressing reproaches in Spanish includes an unreal hypothesis in the past, since the speaker poses a situation that never happened in reality. Although we have already shown similar constructions in our blog, today we are going to know other variants that are used in colloquial language and that will make your Spanish more real.

Expressing reproaches in Spanish: the third conditional

The most usual way of expressing reproaches in Spanish is the use of the third conditional. As we have already seen in this article, there are different types of conditional sentences. However, the only one that could be useful for making hypotheses in the past is the third conditional. The usual construction of these conditional propositions is si + pluperfect subjunctive (hubiera or hubiese + participle) + simple or perfect conditional.

We will use the simple conditional if the effect of the reproach is in the present:

Si no hubieras robado el banco, ahora no estarías en la cárcel

On the other hand, the use of the perfect conditional will place the effect of the reproach in the past:

Si hubieras estudiado más, habrías hecho mejor el examen DELE.


Putting yourself in someone else’s place

When expressing reproaches in Spanish, there are some constructions that “get on our interlocutor’s nerves”. This happens when the speaker wants to put himself in the other person’s place to indicate what decisions would have been more correct. The most popular constructions are: yo que tú…, si fuera tú…, yo en tu lugar… all followed by the pluperfect subjunctive or the perfect conditional; in this type of sentence, we can use both verb tenses.

Yo que tú hubiera dicho la verdad. Si fuera tú habría sido sincero. Yo en tu lugar no hubiera mentido.

Expressing reproaches in Spanish: deberías….

The verb deber is probably the most used verb to express reproaches in Spanish. This verb has a very powerful meaning of obligation. Therefore, it is perfect to indicate that the interlocutor did not fulfill his obligation in the past. The construction is as follows: deberías + perfect infinitive (haber + participle).

Para tener más fluidez, deberías haber hecho más clases de conversación.

“De haber” or “de no haber”… that’s the reproach.

As we saw earlier, the perfect infinitive is a good option for expressing reproaches in Spanish. When we use it preceded by the preposition de, we express an unreal condition in the past, similar to those introduced by the preposition si. The structure of these sentences is as follows: De perfect infinitive (haber + participle) + simple or perfect conditional. Again, the choice of the type of conditional depends on when the effect of the condition occurs:

De haber trabajado más duro, ahora sería rico; pero de haber sido rico, no te habría conocido.

In conclusion, to express reproaches in Spanish we have many options at our disposal. If you want to learn more about this subject and improve your Spanish, reserve a trial lesson now on Spanishviaskype; you won’t need to reproach us.