Top Ten Tips – French Present Conditional

The French conditional is mostly used in si clauses to describe what would happen if some condition were met.  Be careful about considering the use of the conditional every time you want to say would or could, because some situations call for the imperfect tense.

1. Formation: To form the present conditional in French, take the infinitive form of the verb and add the appropriate endings: -ais, -ais, -ait, -ions, -iez, -aient.

2. Use: The present conditional is used to express hypothetical situations, wishes, polite requests, or giving advice. It often (not always) corresponds to the English “would + verb.”

3. Regular verbs: Most verbs in French follow regular patterns when conjugated in the present conditional. For regular -er, -ir, and -re verbs, simply add the conditional endings to the verb stem.

4. Irregular verbs: Some verbs have irregular stems in the present conditional, and they are exactly the same in the futur simple tense. 

5. Agreement: When conjugating verbs ending in –ger or –cer in the present conditional, add an extra “e” before the endings (-eais, -eait, -eaient.) to maintain the soft sound of the preceding consonant.  Do not add an extra “e” before the endings (-ions, iez).

6. Politeness: The present conditional is often used to make polite requests or express politeness. Instead of using the imperative form, you can use the conditional to sound more courteous and formal.

7. Si clauses: The present conditional is commonly used in si clauses to express hypothetical conditions. For example, “Si j’avais plus d’argent, j’achèterais une nouvelle voiture” (If I had more money, I would buy a new car).

8. Expressing wishes: The present conditional is used to express wishes or desires.

  • Je voudrais visiter Paris un jour.
  • I would like to visit Paris one day.

9. Giving advice: The present conditional is also used to give advice in a polite manner.

  • Tu devrais prendre des vacances.
  • You should take a vacation.

10. Accent changes:  Pay attention to the accent changes that occur in some verbs in the present conditional.

  • acheter (j’achèterais)
  • appeler (j’appellerais)
  • jeter (je jetterais)

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