French si clauses
Structures with Si are used to express an assumption, in other words to express conditions contrary to fact.
The sentence with si is a different clause and is always separated with a comma (,) with the main clause. There are formed as followed :
Si clause + main clause
The clause can also be switched in this case there is no need to add a comma:
Main clause + si clause
- Si tu pars au marché, tu m'achèteras un peu de fruits. (If you go to the market, you will buy me some fruits)
- Tu m'achèteras un peu de fruits si tu pars au marché. (You will buy me some fruits some fruits if you go to the market)
The assumption in French
The si clauses can use 3 tenses in the French grammar : the present, the past and the future. And there is a definitive sequence of them to be followed.
|Présent||Si je gagnais au loto, je m'achèterais une voiture de course.||(If i won the lottery, I would buy a car race)|
|Passé||Si j'avais gagné au loto, j'aurais acheté une voiture de course.||(If I had won the lottery, I would have bought a car race)|
|Futur||Si je gagne au loto, j'achèterai une voiture de course.||(If I win the lottery, I will buy a car race)|
1) The Si clauses in the present
These clauses express a improbability with regard to the present or the future. The condition can only theocratically be met.
In general, you use it when you imagine something that cannot happen.
To make an assumption in the present, you use:
Si + imperfect + present conditional
|Si + imparfait||Conditionnel présent||Traductions|
|S'il faisait beau,||j'irais à la plage||(If it was sunny, I would go to the beach)|
|Si j'étais français,||je parlerais bien français||(If I was French, I would speak good French)|
To make a suggestion, you use si + imperfect
- Si on allait au cinéma ? (What if we go to the cinema ?)
- Si on préparait une tarte ? (What if we make a pie ?)
2) The Si clauses in the future
The clauses express a possibility with regard to the present or the future. In these cases, the condition is completely fulfilled.
To make an assumption in the future you use:
Si + present + future simple
|Si + présent||Futur||Traductions|
|Si je reviens à Paris,||j'irais au Ritz palace.||(If I come back to Paris, I will go to the Ritz)|
|Si je sors tôt,||je passerais chez toi.||(If I leave sooner, I'll come to see you)|
Si is never used after the future, do not confound the indirect speech that uses the future to the assumption that cannot use it.
- Elle lui demande si elle viendra avec nous. (She asks him if he will come with us)
- Je ne sais pas si je partirai. (I don't know if I'll come)
Expressing a fact
To express a fact, a generality, you use si + present + present
- Si on mange trop, on grossit. (If we eat too much, we take weight)
- Si je dors trop, j'ai mal à la tête. (If I sleep too much, I have a headache)
Expressing an advice or recommendation
To express an advice or recommendation, you use si + present + present imperative
- Si tu sors, mets ton manteau ! (If you go out, put a coat !)
- Si tu as des problèmes, appelle-moi ! (If you have any problem, call me !)
Expressing a certainty
When you want to express a certainty, you use quand + future simple
- Quand je reviendrai, j'irai à la tour Eiffel. (When I'll come back, I'll go to the Eiffel tower)
- Quand nous aurons nos notes, on partira en vacances. (When we will receive our marks, we will go on holidays)
3) The Si clauses in the past
These clauses express an impossibility with regard to the past. There is no way the condition can be met because the events are already over.
The assumption about the past most often expresses regret, something that is over, a situation where someone cannot go back.
To make an assumption in the past, you use:
Si + pluperfect + past conditional
|Si + plus-que-parfait||Conditionel passé||Traductions|
|Si j'avais passé mon bac,||j'aurais fait des études à l'université||(If I had done my A-level, I would have done studies at the university)|
|Si tu étais venue plus tôt,||tu aurais vu ton père||(If you had came sooner, you would have seen your father)|
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