Tag Archive | The Conditional Tense

The Conditional Perfect

The conditional perfect tense in French consists of the conditional of the auxiliary verbs avoir or être + the past participle. The past participle follows the same agreement rules as in the passé composé.

avoir

j‘aurais parlé, fini, vendu nous aurions parlé, fini, vendu
tu aurais parlé, fini, vendu vous auriez parlé, fini, vendu
il/elle/on aurait parlé, fini, vendu ils/elles auraient parlé, fini, vendu

être

je serais parti(e), rentré(e), allé(e) nous serions parti(e)s, rentré(e)s, allé(e)s
tu serais parti(e), rentré(e), allé(e) vous seriez parti(e)(s), rentré(e)(s), allé(e)(s)
il serait parti, rentré, allé ils seraient partis, rentrés, allés
elle serait partie, rentrée, allée elles seraient parties, rentrées, allées
on serait parti(s/es), rentré(s/es), allé(s/es)

The conditional perfect expresses the idea would have spoken, would have finished, would have sold. In other words, it labels actions that did not take place, but that would have or could have taken place if certain conditions had been met.

Moi, je n’aurais pas fait ça. | I wouldn’t havedone that.


Personne ne l’aurait compris. | Nobody would have understood him.


Tu lui aurais dit la vérité, toi ? | Would you have told her the truth?

In journalistic language, the conditional perfect may be used to express an assertion that the writer sees as alleged but not yet verified, one deriving from sources rather than investigation. The English equivalent is usually the present perfect tense.

L’enterprise aurait demandé un prêt considérable. | The company had asked (implication – it is rumoured) for a large loan.


Selon des sources en générale bien informées, des officiels de l’ONU auraient été à la solde de régimes brutaux du Moyen-Orient. | According to usually knowledgeable sources, UN officials have been on the payroll of brutal Middle Eastern regimes.


See you all next week, everyone!

A bientôt !

Courtney

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Conditional Mood

I’m jumping back a bit to further explain the Conditional at a more advanced level. There is a bit of debate on whether the conditional in French should be classed as a verb tense or a mood, and actually, the conditional verb forms can convey information about both time and the attitude of the speaker.

Present Conditional

The present conditional is formed from the future stem + imperfect endings.

Je donnerais, tu donnerais, etc.

I would/should give, you should/would give, etc.

Conditional Perfect

The conditional perfect is formed from the present conditional of the auxiliary verb (J’aurais / je serais) + past participle.

J’aurais donné. – I would have given.

Tu serais parti. – You should have left.


The main uses of the conditional are listed below.

To express a hypothesis, most commonly in the form: “If x happened, I would do… / If x had happened, I would have done…”

Si je gagnais 1.000.000 euros, je m’achèterais une nouvelle voiture.

If I won 1,000,000 Euros, I would/should buy a new car.


Si j’avais su ton adresse, je serais venu te voir.

If I had known your address, I would have come to see you.


In indirect speech or thought after si to ask/know whether something would happen/would have happened.

Il m’a demandé si je viendrais.

He asked me if/whether I would come.


Nous ne savons pas si elle aurait préférée passer l’année dernière à Nice.

We don’t know if/whether she would have preferred to spend last year in Nice.

It’s good to note that this is one of the only cases in which it is correct to use the conditional after si. An easy way to check whether an English sentence fits this category is to ask if “if” can be replaced by “whether”.

Il m’a demandé si  je changerais d’emploi.

He asked if I would change my job. / He asked whether I would change my job.


In a main clause, to imply that the information is as yet unconfirmed. This is seen mostly in the media such as newspapers and online journalism. There is also no direct equivalent form in English.

Le Président des Etats-Unis serait malade.

The President of the United States is said/rumoured to be ill.


Un avion aurait été manqué.

A plane is reported to have gone missing.


In questions, giving a tentative supposition.

La voiture n’est plus là. Ta sœur serait partie ?

The car’s gone. Might your sister have left? / Perhaps your sister has left?


Est-ce qu’ils auraient dépensé tout l’argent déjà ?

Is it possible they’ve already spent all the money?


In exclamations to convey that something is unlikely, and possibly to suggest some indignation.

Moi, je lui enverrais une invitation Facebook!

Can you imagine me sending him a Facebook [friend] request! / I’d never send him a Facebook [friend] request!


There are two cases where in English would/should may be used, but where French requires a different construction.

“Would” conveying the sense of “used to”, such as a repeated action in the past. This would actually be translated into French by the Imperfect.

When we were travelling in France, we would stay at youth hostels. (When we were travelling in France, we used to stay at youth hostels.)

Quand nous voyagions en France, nous restions dans des auberges de jeunesse.

“Should / should have” conveying the sense of “ought to / ought to have”, such as an obligation. This would be translated into French by using the Present Conditional, or the Conditional Perfect of devoir + infinitive.

I should call my mother tonight. (I ought to call my mother tonight.)

Je devrais téléphoner à ma mère ce soir.


We should have turned right at the traffic light. (We ought to have turned right at the traffic light.)

Nous aurions dû tourner à droite aux feux rouges.


Next week I will continue a bit more with the Conditional. But I will leave you with this for now.

Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous !

Courtney

Lesson 17 – The Conditional Tense

Leçon 17 – The Conditional Tense – Le Conditionnel

The conditional expresses what might happen or what would happen if certain conditions existed. It is formed by adding the endings of the imperfect tense to the infinitive.

Parler

  • je parlerais
  • tu parlerais
  • il/elle/on parlerait
  • nous parlerions
  • vous parleriez
  • ils/elles parleraient

Finir

  • je finirais
  • tu finirais
  • il/elle/on finnirait
  • nous parlerions
  • vous finiriez
  • ils/elles finiraient

Rendre

  • je rendrais
  • tu rendrais
  • il/elle/on rendrait
  • nous rendrions
  • vous rendriez
  • ils/elles rendraient

Être

  • je serais
  • tu serais
  • il/elle/on serait
  • nous serions
  • vous seriez
  • ils/elles seraient

 

The same spelling changes that appear in the future tense appear in the conditional.

  • acheter – j’achèterais
  • appeler – j’appellerais
  • préférer – je préférerais

 

The conditional of il faut is il faudrait. The conditional of il y a is il y aurait.

The conditional tense is the equivalent of English would + verb. It must not be confused with the use of would to describe a repeated action in the past, which is the imperfect (l’imparfait).

  • On allait à la plage tous les jours quand on était petits.
  • We would go to the beach everyday when we were kids.

 

That is all for this week. Please let me know if there is anything you would like to see here. I do take requests!

Merci à vous !

Courtney