French Conditional: Present + Past Conjugations, Examples

Present conditional

French conditionalThe present conditional (le présent du conditionnel) is used to express actions that might or would happen. It is the “would” tense. It is formed in a similar way to the futur simple. Add the imperfect endings (-ais, -ais-, -ait, -ions, -iez, -aient) to the infinitives or regular -ER and -IR verbs.

For regular -RE verbs add the endings to the infinitive minus the final E. The same irregular stems in the futur simple carry through to the conditional.

Present conditional conjugation

je parlerais
tu parlerais
il parlerait
nous parlerions
vous parleriez
ils parleraient
je finirais
tu finirais
il finirait
nous finirions
vous finiriez
ils finiraient
je vendrais
tu vendrais
il vendrait
nous vendrions
vous vendriez
ils vendraient

Present conditional examples

The conditional has many uses. You can use the conditional to express wishes and make polite suggestions. The French also use it in journalism to mean ‘allegedly’ or reportedly.

wishes or suggestions

  • J’aimerais acheter une nouvelle maison. I’d like to buy a new house.
  • Ce serait sympa de faire du ski demain. It would be nice to go skiing tomorrow.
  • À ta place, j’achèterais cette nouvelle paire de skis. If I were you, I’d buy this new pair of skis.
  • Elle voudrait commencer son nouveau travail demain. She’d like to start her new job tomorrow.

polite requests

  • Est-ce que tu pourrais m’aider? Could you help me?
  • Voudriez-vous venir chez nous demain? Would you like to come to our place tomorrow?
  • Pourrais-tu m’expliquer ce mot? Could you explain this word to me?

journalistic usage

  • Le premier ministre serait ici demain. The prime minister will reportedly be here tomorrow.
  • Le directeur signerait un contrat demain. The director will reportedly sign a contract tomorrow.
  • Le comedien se présenterait sur scene demain. The actor will reportedly appear on stage tomorrow.

si clasues using the conditional + imparfait

Si clauses are “if then” statements. If this situation happens, then another situation will result. The construction is: if + imparfait, then + conditional.

  • Nous partirions en vacances si nous avions plus de temps. We’d go on vacation if we had more time.
  • Elle achetèrait la voiture si elle avait plus d’argent. She’d by the car if she had more money.
  • Si j’avais plus d’argent je voyagerais plus souvent. If I had more money I’d travel more.
  • Il déménagerait en France s’il pouvait. He’d move to France if he could.
  • Je serais ravis si tu invitais Paul. I’d be delighted if you invited paul.
  • Je ferais du ski si la station de ski était encore ouvert. I’d go skiing if the ski area was still open.
  • Tu parlerais mieux si tu apprenais ces verbes. You would speak better if you learned these verbs.

Past conditional

The past conditional, also called the conditional perfect, is used to describe actions that would have occurred. “I would have gone but I wasn’t ready”.

For verbs which take avoir in the passé composé, it is formed with the conditional of avoir plus the past participle. For verbs which take être in the passé composé use the conditional of être.

past conditional conjugation

Parler -> would have spoken
j'aurais parlé
tu aurais parlé
il, elle aurait parlé
nous aurions parlé
vous auriez parlé
ils, elles auraient parlé
Aller -> would have gone
je serais allé(e)
tu serais allé(e)
il, elle serait allé(e)
nous serions allé(e)s
vous seriez allé(e)(s)
ils, elles seraient allé(e)s
Se lever -> would have gotten up
je me serais levé(e)
tu te serais levé(e)
il, elle se serait levé(e)
nous nous serions levé(e)s
vous vous seriez levé(e)(s)
ils, elles se seraient levé(e)s

past conditional examples

Uses of the conditionnel passé consist of expressing regret for an action that never occurred and hypothetical situations of events that did or didn’t take place. J’aurais dû + infinitive indicates “I should have”. It also has a journalistic use for events that allegedly or reportedly occurred.

Expressing regret, talking about things that never happened

  • J’aurais tellement aimé y aller. Would have loved to go.
  • Tu aurais dû commander la pizza. You should have ordered the pizza.
  • J’aurais su la verité. I should have known the truth.
  • Vous auriez dû me le dire! You should have told me!

Si clause: If A had (not) happened (plus-que-parfait), then B would have (not) happened (past conditional)

  • Si j’avais su, je ne serais pas y allé. If I’d known, I wouldn’t have gone.
  • J’aurais acheté la voiture si j’avais eu assez d’argent. I’d have have bought the car if I’d had enough money.
  • Elle serait allée en France si elle avait eu plus de temps libre. She would have gone to France if she’d had more free time.
  • J’aurais dîné avec toi si j’avais pu. I’d have had dinner with you if I’d been able.
  • Je serais venu si j’avais reçu ton coup de fil plus tôt. I would have come if I had received your telephone call earlier.

Journalistic usage: Allegedly, reportedly

  • Le premier ministre se serait rendu aux Pays-Bas. The prime minister reportedly made it to the Netherlands.
  • Les scientifiques auraient trouvé une vaccination. The scientists reportedly found a vaccination.
  • Le cambrioleur aurait volé le vélo. The robber allegedly stole the bike.

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