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French: Difference between the subjunctive and imperfect?

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    Both have the same endings iirc (unless I got the subjunctive wrong) and I'm always mixed up with these two, could someone explain the differences and how they're both formed?

    Thanks a bunch!
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    Hmm, it's not the subjunctive I'm on about then; it's another tense with the same endings as the imperfect, but I've completely forgotten the name and what it does. o_O
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    Take the future stems and add the imperfect endings.
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    Yeah, you're thinking of the conditional, which is totally different from the subjunctive, but has the same sort of endings. Great summary btw for the subjunctive, Wes. Rep for you later...

    The major difference is that conditional endings are added on to the full verb infinitive, whereas the imperfect endings are added to the stem of the verb (ie without its -er/-ir/-re ending)

    The conditional is the same as 'would' in English. It describes what would happen on the CONDITION of something else - hypothetically speaking. 'I WOULD like that' (if it happened). 'She WOULD go into town' (if she had any money).

    Example - 'parler'
    Imperfect: (used to speak/spoke/was speaking)

    Je parlais
    Tu parlais
    Il/elle/on parlait
    Nous parlions
    Vous parliez
    Ils/elles parlaient

    Conditional: (would speak)

    Je parlerais
    Tu parlerais
    Il/elle/on parlerait
    Nous parlerions
    Vous parleriez
    Ils/elles parleraient

    The imperfect has the stem 'parl' + ending. The conditional uses the full infinitive 'parler' + ending. So a GENERAL rule, is that if you can see the infinitive in a word, which includes an R, then it's conditional (or future).

    An example in practice:

    If I spoke to Pierre, I would like Mary.

    Si je parlais a Pierre, J'aimerais Mary.

    Excuse the lack of accent on the 'a' there. :p:

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    Brilliant summary people, it helped a truckload! Finally got all the tenses clear in my mind. =)
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    Good stuff
    How did you find the exams?


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Updated: May 20, 2008
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