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Kwiziq community member
24 May 2018
I would have a big house if I could afford it
"J'aurais une grande maison si j'en avais les moyens"
Why is the imparfait "avais" used here? "Could" is conditional, so why are we not using "pourrais" here?
This question relates to:French lesson "Conjugate avoir in le Conditionnel Présent (conditional mood)"
Kwiziq language super star
25 May 2018
Hi Steven ,
In English, 'could' can be used as a past tense as well as a conditional so can also mean 'was able to'. Look at the following examples:
I could hear Robert play the flute in the next room.
Mozart could play the piano blindfolded.
I could leave work early today as I had a doctor's appointment.
In all these cases 'could' can be replaced 'was able' or 'was allowed' in the last sentence.
This is the case in the example you mention -
I would have a big house if I was able to afford it.
Hope this helps!
French follows its own rules, and translating from English 1:1 won't always land you on the mark.
The rule for "If"-sentence can be summarized like this:
Case 1: expressing a possibility in the presentSi clause: present tense; main clause: present tense or future tenseSi tu veux tu peux le faire. -- If you want, you can do it.Si j'ai de l'argent, je acheterai une voiture. -- If I have money I will by a car.
Case 2: expressing an unlikely possibility in the presenSi clause: imparfait; main clause: conditionnel présentSi j'avais de l'argent, j'acheterais une voiture. -- If I had money, I would by a car.
Case 3: expressing a missed possibility in the pastSi clause: plus-que parfait; main clause: conditionnel passéSi j'avais eu de l'argent, j'aurais acheté une voitre. -- If I had had money, I would have bought a car.
I hope that helps, -- Chris (not a native speaker).
30 May 2018
That did help. Thank you! :)
That was a nice breakdown and it made a lot of sense. Thank you!
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