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Tense

Future & Conditional

French and English use their future tense (see future & conditional conjugations) in much the same way.

J'irai la semaine prochaine
I will go next week.

As already mentioned, the present tense is often used to express future actions. Using the present tense gives the action more immediacy.

In French you can use aller plus a verb instead of the future.

Ils vont appeller nos parents.
They will call our relatives.

Je vais danser.
I will dance.

The Conditional

Technically the conditional (see future & conditional conjugations) is a mood, not a tense. The mood that we've dealt with so far is the indicative which describes reality. The present tense, all the verb forms of the past tense, and the future are all reality describers.

The conditional expresses the hypothetic and the possible. In English it is expressed using would and sometimes should or could.

Il vous appellerait s'il savait que vous l'aimez.
He would call you if he knew that you loved him.

Si vous nettoyez votre chambre, votre colocataire serait plus gentil avec vous.
If you cleaned your room, your roommate would be nicer to you.

Elle aurait fait son devoir, mais elle n'a pas de crayon.
She would have done her homework, but she doesn't have a pencil.

Huit jours avec de la fièvre! J'aurais encore eu le temps d'écrire un livre! -- Honoré de Balzac sur son lit de mort
Eight days of fever! I would have had the time to write a book.

To express uncertainty:

Il semblerait que des extraterrestres leurs ont rendu visite.
It would seem that aliens have visited them.

Often the conditional is used to politely ask a question, make a suggestion, or request something.

Je voudrais du bon vin blanc. I would like some nice white wine.
Pourriez-vous lui parler à ma place? Could you talk to him for me?

Either the future or conditional is used to refer to future actions when talking about the past.

Le candidat a dit qu'il aiderait les pauvres.
The candidate said he would help the poor.

Le candidat a dit qu'il aidera les pauvres!
The candidate said he will help the poor.

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