Cinq Nord | A French Language Sandbox


Le Conditionnel

"I would..."

In English, the conditional tense carries the auxiliary verb "would" to create a compound verb, e.g. "I would go outside today if I liked the weather."

Le conditionnel is not a compound verb in French, but instead a conjugation of the infinitive. More specifically, a group of suffixes are appended to the infinitive. These are the same suffixes used in l'imparfait. However, l'imparfait appends these suffixes to a stem derived from the verb's present-tense conjugation of nous. Le conditionnel appends these suffixes to the infinitive:

Thus, parler in le conditionnel becomes:

Je parlerais.— I would speak.
Tu parlerais.— You would speak.
Il/Elle/On parlerait.— He/She/One would speak.
Nous parlerions.— We would speak.
Vous parleriez.— You would speak
Ils parleraient.— They would speak.

For -re verbs, the final -e is dropped before the conditional suffix is applied. "Est-ce que vous vendriez le chapeau por dix euro?" ("Is it that you would sell the hat for ten euros?")

Irregular forms of the future tense are also used in the conditional tense. Thus, the common phrase "I would like" is je voudrait rather than je vouloirais.

Note: First-person conjugations of le futur and le conditionnel have different spellings but sound identical in spoken French. Thus, the speaker's meaning typically is derived from context.

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