Conditional Mood in French

The French conditional is a mood and not a tense, what is the difference?
You know expressions like good or bad mood, it is the same word.
You also remember that we say “present perfect indicative mood”, because indicative = neutral, but the conditional is not neutral, with it: things may occur on certain conditions.


Have a look at the video:

Conditional is for expressions like “I would”, “I could”, it works on condition, that’s why we call it conditional, the event described is not sure but depends on something else, and also for polite expressions like:
I would like a cup of tea or could I go with you?

In French, we need a stem and a conditional ending:
The stem is the infinitive form of the verb without the final “e” when it is the case:
To eat: MANGER
To take: PRENDRE
To drink: BOIRE  BOIR

The conditional endings come from the IMPARFAIT tense, the ending is the same.

With the verb to eat, we get: I would eat…

I would eat
• Je mangerais
• Tu mangerais
• Il mangerait
• Nous mangerions
• Vous mangeriez
• Ils mangeraient

With the verb to drink: I would drink
I would drink
• Je boirais
• Tu boirais
• Il boirait
• Nous boirions
• Vous boiriez
• Ils boiraient


Irregular verbs:

•Avoir: J’aurais, tu aurais, il aurait…
•Être: je serais, tu serais, il serait…
•Appeler: j’appellerais, tu appellerais…
•Aller: j’irais, tu irais, il irait…
•Faire: je ferais, tu ferais, il ferait…
•Vouloir: je voudrais, tu voudrais, il voudrait…
•Pouvoir: je pourrais, tu pourrais…

Polite expressions:

•I would like a cup of coffee:
– Je voudrais une tasse de café
– J’aimerais une tasse de café
To translate “I would like” you can use the verb to want or the verb to like in French as written above.
• Could I go with you?
– Pourrais-je venir avec toi?
• One more thing to know, in French we NEVER use the conditional mood after the word “if”:
• If I would go with you, I would take a coat:
Si je venais avec vous, je prendrais un manteau.
We use the imparfait instead.

We do not say: si je viendrais, even if viendrais is the correct conditional form, because after “if” no conditional but the imperfect tense.


Pascal Dherve

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Pascal Dherve

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