French: Difference between the subjunctive and imperfect?

    • Thread Starter

    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!
    • Thread Starter

    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

    Take the future stems and add the imperfect endings.

    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:

    • Thread Starter

    Brilliant summary people, it helped a truckload! Finally got all the tenses clear in my mind. =)

    Good stuff
    How did you find the exams?
Write a reply… Reply
Submit reply


Thanks for posting! You just need to create an account in order to submit the post
  1. this can't be left blank
    that username has been taken, please choose another Forgotten your password?
  2. this can't be left blank
    this email is already registered. Forgotten your password?
  3. this can't be left blank

    6 characters or longer with both numbers and letters is safer

  4. this can't be left empty
    your full birthday is required
  1. Oops, you need to agree to our Ts&Cs to register
  2. Slide to join now Processing…

Updated: May 20, 2008
Electronic notes or handwritten notes?

The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

Quick reply
Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.