The conditional in French
Conditional in French
INDEX OF CONTENTS
- General rule
- When it’s used?
- The conditional is also used in French
- How to conjugate French verbs in the conditional?
- Use with “if” (hypothesis) + time agreement
- Past conditional
The conditional can be used as a tense or as a mode . In the first case, it allows to express the future in the past. In the second case, it expresses the contingency, the imaginary (a future action whose performance is not certain because it is subject to a condition).
Learn the rules for using and conjugating the conditional in French thanks to our simple and clear explanations accompanied by examples and practice its correct use with our exercises! It will be very useful if you take an official exam !
Radical du futur simple + terminaisons de l’imparfait
Parler (1st group)
Finir (2nd group)
Dire (3rd group)
I would speak
You would speak
Il / Elle parlerait
He / she would speak
We would talk
you would talk
Ils / Elles parleraient
They would talk
I would finish
Tu will finish
You would end
Il / Elle finirait
He / she would end
We would end
You would finish
Ils / Elles finiraient
They / they would finish
I would say
you would say
Il / Elle dirait
He / she would say
We would say
You would say
Ils / Elles diraient
They would say
When it’s used?
The conditional form is what we use when we say things like ‘I would like to…. “Or” It could be … “or” He would buy me … “. This form serves to express many things:
Courtesy (La politesse):
- Je voudrais vous parler.
I would like to talk to you.
I wish (A souhait):
- J’aimerais faire le tour du monde.
I would like to travel the world.
Probability (Une probabilité):
- A cause des grèves, le train pourrait avoir du retard.
Due to the strikes, the train could be late.
A complaint or protest (Une protest):
- Tu pourrais faire attention!
You should be careful!
A future in the past:
- Il m’a dit qu’il ne viendrait pas.
He told me he would not come.
An event subject to a condition or hypothesis:
- Si j’avais beaucoup d’argent, je m’achèterais une Ferrari.
If I had a lot of money, I would buy a Ferrari.
A fiction (Une fiction):
- Moi, je serais la reine, et toi, tu serais le roi.
I would be the queen and you the king.
The conditional is also used in French
As an expression of a wish, possibility or hypothesis in the present or future (present conditional) and in the past (past conditional).
- Michel aimerait être in holidays.
Michel would like to be on vacation.
The conditional tense expresses the future in the past.
- Michel a pensé qu’il pouvait partir en voyage..
Michel thought he could go on a trip.
Use in hypothetical sentences.
- Si vous alliez aux Caraïbes, vous pourriez aller à la plage tous les jours.
If you went to the Caribbean, you could go to the beach every day.
Polite formula in a questioning way.
- Michel, pourriez-vous venir au conseil?
Michel, could you come to the board?
How to conjugate French verbs in the conditional?
The present conditional is formed from the future radical to which we add the imperfect endings.
Groupe en -er
Groupe en -ir
Groupe en -re
|1e personne du singulier||j’aimerais||je finirais||je vendrais|
|2e personne du singulier||tu aimerais||tu finirais||tu vendrais|
|3e personne du singulier||il/elle/on aimerait||il/elle/on finirait||il/elle/on vendrait|
|1re personne du pluriel||nous aimerions||nous finirions||nous vendrions|
|2e personne du pluriel||vous aimeriez||vous finiriez||vous vendriez|
|3e personne du pluriel||ils/elles aimeraient||ils/elles finiraient||ils/elles vendraien|
Use with “if” (hypothesis) + time agreement .
In certain situations, the conditional is imposed by the principle of time agreement , in particular, it is found in the building with “if” in the subordinate clause.
- si tu travaillais, tu obtiendrais de bons résultats.
if it worked, it would get good results.
If the verb of the subordinate that expresses a hypothesis and introduced by “if” is imperfect, the verb of the principal must necessarily be in the present conditional.
Conditional or future?
In some situations, it is difficult to determine if the verb is in the future or in the conditional . This is particularly the case with the first person singular. In fact, in this form, the conditional and the future are pronounced the same way.
Example: futur: j’aimerai, conditionnel: j’aimerais. The only difference is in the writing, the pronunciation is the same.
To determine the difference , it is necessary to establish whether the action is future or hypothetical.
For a native French speaker, it is also possible to switch people to determine which one is correct. Example: futur: tu aimeras, conditionnel: tu future aimerais : you will like it, conditional: you will like it.
Etre / avoir in present conditional + participle
Example of the verb “manger” (to eat)
|j’aurais mangé||I would have eaten|
|tu aurais mangé||you would have eaten|
|il aurait mangé||he would have eaten|
|nous aurions mangé||we will have eaten|
|vous auriez mangé||you will have eaten|
|ils auraient mangé||they would have eaten|
Concordance : verbs that use the auxiliary “être” have to adapt the participle in gender and number to the subject.
|il serais allé||he would have gone|
|elle serais allée||she would have gone|
|ils seraient allés||they would have gone|
|elles seraient allées||they would have gone|