Forming the Conditional Tense

In French, the conditional tense has its own verb form, so you will always be able to recognize it. You have to be careful, however, not to confuse it with the future tense. To form the conditional tense in French, you use future stem of the verb, but you conjugate it with the imparfait verb endings. Here is a reminder of those endings:

Table 15-1

Imparfait Verb Endings

Person

Singular

Plural

1st Person

-ais

-ions

2nd Person

-ais

-iez

3rd Person

-ait

-aient

As a result, the construction of the conditional tense is relatively straightforward. Just use the same stem of the verb you would use to create the future tense and tack on the imperfect ending. The conditional tense conjugation of the regular verbs is illustrated in the following sections.

-er and — ir Verbs

For -er and — ir verbs, simply use the infinitive form of the verb as the stem:

Table 15-2

Conditionnel Conjugation of Parler

Singular

Plural

je parlerais

nous parlerions

tu parlerais

vous parleriez

il/elle parlerait

ils/elles parleraient

Table 15-3

Conditionnel Conjugation of Finir

Singular

Plural

je finirais

nous finirions

tu finirais

vous finiriez

il/elle finirait

ils/elles finiraient

-re Verbs

To form the conditional stem of -re verbs, simply drop the “e” from the end, as with prendre.

Table 15-4

Conditionnel Conjugation of Prendre

Singular

Plural

je prendrais

nous prendrions

tu prendrais

vous prendriez

il/elle prendrait

ils/elles prendraient

Like the imparfait, the unique pronunciation of the endings should help you to discern quite easily between the future and the conditional. The only ones that are pronounced the same are the je forms, so pay close attention to them.

Verbs that have an irregular stem in the future tense also use that same irregular stem to form the conditional. The following list of verbs with irregular future stems is included for your convenience; for more information, consult Chapter 14, where the future tense is discussed in detail.

Table 15-5

Irregular Future Stems

Verb

Future Stem

avoir

aur-

être

ser-

aller

ir-

devoir

devr-

envoyer

enverr-

faire

fer-

falloir

faudr-

pleuvoir

pleuvr-

pouvoir

pourr-

recevoir

recevr-

savoir

saur-

valoir

vaudr-

venir

viendr-

voir

verr-

vouloir

voudr-

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