French/Grammar/Tenses/Present conditional

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Usage of the Conditional (Present)[edit]

The conditional tense is used when:

  • a hypothetical situation is described. In which case the structure "Si + l'imparfait, le conditionnel" is used.
e.g. If I saw (or If I were to see) her, I would not recognize her. - Si je la voyais, je ne la reconnaîtrais pas.
  • a polite request needs to be made:
e.g. I would like a small salad, please. - Je voudrais (or J'aimerais) une petit salade, s'il vous plaît.
  • an event that had not happened was described:
e.g. He said Marie would come. - Il a dit que Marie viendrait.

Formation of the Conditional[edit]

Conditional Stems[edit]

  • For (regular and irregular) -er or -ir verbs, the infinitive is the conditional stem.
  • For (regular and irregular) -re verbs, the infinitive minus the final e is the conditional stem.
  • Exception: Verbs that are stem-changing in the present are stem-changing in the conditional also.
  • Exception: Certain irregular verbs have irregular conditional stems. (Not all irregular verbs have conditional stems).
  • Note: In a word, the conditional stem is the same with the future one.

Stem Changes

Verb

Change From

Change To

-ler verbs

ler

ller

-ter verbs

ter

tter

-yer verbs

yer

ier

verbs with an e in the penultimate syllable

e in penultimate syllable

è

verbs with é in the penultimate syllable

é in penultimate syllable

è

Irregular Stems

verb

future stem

aller

ir-

avoir

aur-

devoir

devr-

envoyer

enverr-

être

ser-

faire

fer-

pleuvoir

pleuvr-

pouvoir

pourr-

savoir

saur-

venir

viendr-

voir

verr-

vouloir

voudr-

Conditional Endings[edit]

  • To conjugate in the conditional, add the appropriate ending to the future stem.


Subject

Ending

je

-ais

tu

-ais

il

-ait

nous

-ions

vous

-iez

ils

-aient