French Sentence Structure – 3rd Conditional Si Clauses

I would have put the car in the garage if it had rained.J’aurais mis la voiture dans le garage s’il avait plu. 

Comparing French and English Sentence Structure

It can be interesting to look at French sentences and their English translations while comparing the two. Once you have identified corresponding words, you will realize how many similarities there are French and English. You’ll also notice some big differences, and those are worth examining more closely.


The following example shows la voiture being replaced by a direct object pronoun (le = l’). Agreement must be made when a direct object or direct object pronoun precedes a past participle. La voiture is feminine and singular, so an e is added to mis + e = mise. This changes the pronunciation of the past participle.



I = Je

Je is a first person, singular pronoun that means I. In this sentence, e is removed and replaced by an apostrophe because it is followed by a vowel.

Lesson:  French subject pronouns


would have = aurais

Aurais is the first person conjugation of the verb avoir in the present conditional. In this sentence, it is the auxiliary for the verb mettre. The helping verb is in the conditional tense because the past conditional is being used.The conditionnel passé is used to talk about something that would have happened or would have been completed at some point in the past, and it is used in third conditional si clauses.

Lesson:  French Past Conditional = Would have, Could have, Should have


put = mis

Mis is the past participle of the verb mettre.

Lesson: French verb mettre


the car = la voiture

The definite article la indicates that voiture is a singular, feminine noun.

Lesson: French articles


in = dans

Dans is a French preposition of place.

Lesson: French prepositions of place


the garage = le garage

The definite article le indicates that garage is a singular, masculine noun.

Lesson: French definite, indefinite, and partitive articles


if = si

Si means if in this sentence, and it introduces a third conditional si clause. Si clauses indicate possibilities which may or may not actually happen. Third conditional si clauses suggest what someone would have done if a certain situation had presented itself. The si part of the clause is in the plus-que-parfait tense. The result clause is in the past conditional.

Lesson: Third conditional si clauses


it = il

Always refer to the weather as il in French.


had = avait

Avait is the third person singular conjugation of the verb avoir in the imperfect tense. In this sentence, it is the auxiliary for the verb pleuvoir. The helping verb is in the imperfect tense because the pluperfect is being used. The plus-que-parfait is used to talk about something that had happened, and it is used in third conditional si clauses.

Lesson: Plus-que-parfait


rained = plu

Plu is the past participle of the verb pleuvoir.

Lesson: Common irregular verbs in the passé composé




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