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Si constructions

Constructions with si express possible or hypothetical situations. These sentences follow a relatively inflexible pattern entailing a “si-clause” and a “result clause,” and they can operate in the present, the past or the pluperfect:

The patterns are as follows:

1. si + present, followed by future
Si tu me dis la vérité, je te croirai. (If you tell me the truth, I will believe you.)

2. si + imperfect, followed by present conditional
Si tu me disais la vérité, je te croirais. (If you told me the truth, I would believe you.)

3. si + pluperfect, followed by past conditional
Si tu m’avais dit la vérité, je t’aurais crue. (If you had told me the truth, I would have believed you.)

Note that the two sides of si constructions can be inverted. Placing the result clause before the si clause does not affect the verb tense associated with each:

S’il avait travaillé plus dur, il aurait reçu une meilleure note.
Il aurait reçu une meilleure note s’il avait travaillé plus dur.

Note that the “If clause” is occasionally implied:

À ta place (= si j’étais à ta place), je ne serais pas resté! (In your position, I wouldn’t have stayed.)
Je ne pousserais pas ce bouton! (I wouldn’t push that button [if I were you]!)

In spoken French result constructions are occasionally rendered without si; in this case, the conditional is used in both clauses:

Tu me dirais ça, je ne te croirais pas. (If you told me that, I wouldn’t believe you.)
Je le lui aurais dit, ça n’aurait rien changé. (If I had told him, it wouldn’t have changed anything.)

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