When do we use the conditional tense?

An explanation of the conditional tense, the tense that is used to talk about what would happen in the future

The conditional tense is used to talk about what would happen in the future:

It is often used with the following expressions:

FrenchEnglish
Après mes vacancesAfter my holidays
Après mes étudesAfter I’ve finished studying
Plus tardLater
À l’avenirIn the future
La semaine prochaineNext week
Lundi prochainNext Monday
L'année prochaineNext year

Examples:

  • après mes vacances, j’aimerais voyager en Australie - I'd like to travel to Australia after my holidays

How to form the conditional tense

To form the conditional tense, we need to add the imperfect endings to the future stem (ie with regular -er and -ir verbs the endings are added directly to the infinitive of the verb, and with regular -re verbs, take the final -e off the infinitive and add the endings).

Conditional endings

EnglishSubject pronounEnding
Ije/j’ais
youtuais
he/she/it (we)il/elle/onait
wenousions
you (formal, plural)vousiez
theyils/ellesaient

Examples:

  • regarder → je regarderais - I would watch
  • finir → tu finirais - you would finish
  • prendre → il/elle/on prendrait - he/she/it would take
  • manger → nous mangerions - we would eat
  • partir → vous partiriez - you would leave
  • vendre → ils/elles vendraient - they would sell