"If she could fly, she would go to the moon." ?

Richard C1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

"If she could fly, she would go to the moon." ?

It’s some consolation to me, having read all the submissions, that I’m not the only one having difficulty with this concept. Has the reconstruction, promised a year ago, been implemented yet? If not, may I make a suggestion? How about, instead of asking "If she could fly, she would go to the moon.", ask instead "If she was able to fly, she would go to the moon.”?

Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Richard, 

I take your point but unfortunately in English 'could' to convey a past tense and not a conditional is used more frequently than 'was able to' so I think you need to ask yourself in your head if you are confused -

can I  replace 'could' by 'was able to'?

to make sure you get the right tense in French but in everyday context, I don't think there would be any confusion.

Hope this helps!

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

The English "could" has the double function of being imperfect of "can" as well as conditional. This is bound to lead to confusion.

MaartenC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Agree with Cécile about not changing the words here - ‘could’ is too common an English word to avoid using, and needing to understand the different ways in French to convey a similar meaning in different contexts is essential. 

I also agree with Richard that the wording in the lesson itself could be further improved. 

For example, referring to the ‘second clause’ is misleading, as the clause order is not fixed - the ‘si’ clause may be ‘first’, or it may be ‘second’. At least, change this eg  ‘other’ clause.

 (I think the lesson would also benefit from more of the ‘nuts and bolts’ in the explanation, similar to the introductory lines Laura Lawless has in the linked discussion)

In the meantime Richard, the following link may help : 

https://www.lawlessfrench.com/grammar/si-clauses-second-conditional/

"If she could fly, she would go to the moon." ?

It’s some consolation to me, having read all the submissions, that I’m not the only one having difficulty with this concept. Has the reconstruction, promised a year ago, been implemented yet? If not, may I make a suggestion? How about, instead of asking "If she could fly, she would go to the moon.", ask instead "If she was able to fly, she would go to the moon.”?

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