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French Conditional Mood

How to use the French conditional mood

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The French conditional mood is very similar to the English conditional mood. It describes events that are not guaranteed to occur; often they are dependent on certain conditions. While the French conditional mood has a full set of conjugations, the English equivalent is just the modal verb "would" + main verb.

The French conditional is mainly used in if ... then, to express what would happen if a condition were met*

   Il mangerait s'il avait faim.
   He would eat if he were hungry.

   Si nous étudiions, nous serions plus intelligents.
   If we studied, (then) we would be smarter.

*Note that the conditional is in the result (then) part of the clause, not the clause that follows si (if).


The verb vouloir is used in the conditional to express a polite request:

   Je voudrais une pomme.
   I would like an apple.

   Je voudrais y aller avec vous.
   I would like to go with you.

However, you can't say "si vous voudriez" to mean "if you would like," because the French conditional can never be used after si.


The verb aimer is used to express a polite desire, sometimes one that cannot be fulfilled:

   J'aimerais bien le voir !
   I would really like to see it!

   J'aimerais y aller, mais je dois travailler
   I would like to go, but I have to work.


Go on to page 2 to learn how to conjugate the conditional mood.

Test on the French conditional mood
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