Moods in Hypothetical Clauses

First off, I must apologise; I meant to post this part 2 from my Conditional Mood post last week, but I somehow thought I already did. (Oups.) Anyhow, let’s continue from where we left off from two weeks ago.

All true conditional sentences follow one of three patterns:

🔵 If … happens (present)

  • …stay at home (imperative)
  • …people always stay at home (present)
  • …we’ll stay at home (future)

French uses identical tenses to the above English example:

Si + present

S’il y a une tempête, reste chez toi! | If there is a storm, stay home!

S’il y a une tempête, les citoyens de la ville restent chez eux. | If there is a storm, the town’s citizens will stay home.

S’il y a une tempête, je resterai chez moi. | If there is a storm, I will stay home.

🔵 If … happened (simple past), X would stay at home (present conditional)

Here, French uses the imperfect, not the simple past like in English, after si.

Si + imperfect … present conditional:

S’il y avait une tempête, est-ce que vous resteriez chez vous ? | If there was/were a storm, would you stay at home?

🔵 If … had happened (pluperfect), X would have stayed at home (conditional perfect)

Si + pluperfect … conditional perfect:

Si j’étais tombé malade, je serais resté chez moi. | If I had fallen ill, I would have stayed at home.

When si is followed by two hypothetical statements, the first should be put in the indicative (present/imperfect/pluperfect), and the second should be introduced by et que + subjunctive:

Si ce parti gagne/gagnait l’élection et qu‘il tienne ses promesses…

If this party wins/won the election and keeps/kept its promises…

There are ways of expressing hypotheses without using a conditional sentence introduced by si.

🔵 In colloquial usage, to emphasize the hypothetical nature of a statement, the first clause can be introduced by quand (même) + conditional, and the second clause also in the conditional:

Quand (même) tu me le dirais, je ne le croirais pas.

Even if you told me so, I wouldn’t believe it.

🔵 In colloquial usage, the first and second clauses can be conditional, joined by que:

Vous chercheriez toute la soirée que vous ne le trouveriez pas.

If you searched all evening, you still wouldn’t find it.

I’m liking revisiting older posts for verb tenses and going a bit deeper and more advanced. What do you think? I hope everyone has a great week!

Merci à vous !



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