Transcript of the video
If I had wanted to, I would have become a baker.
No, it's a mistake. If I had wanted to, I would have become a baker.
Hello everyone. I hope you are well. I'm back today for a new French video.
Today, we are going to see a very common mistake in French. This mistake is not only made by people who are learning French or by non-native speakers.
Many French people also make this mistake.
Often, it can be children or people who don't pay much attention to the way they speak, who don't take care of the French they speak, and if, for example, you watch reality TV shows in French, you hear this mistake quite often.
I'll start by putting an excerpt where you can hear the mistake.
Are you a colonel or not? So, you have to obey! Ohh but... if I had known, I wouldn't have come.
I don't know if you know this movie. It's called War of the Buttons. It's a cult movie in France which is adapted from a book. It's a movie from the 60's. The child says "if I had known, I would not have come".
Obviously here, the mistake is made intentionally, it's done on purpose. That's also why this line from the film, this sentence from the film, has become a cult.
Many people know this line from the movie. The mistake many people make is putting conditional, a verb conjugated in the conditional tense after an if.
In reality the if, it is the conjunction "if" already marks the condition.
So, we're not going to double the condition, repeat it twice using a conditional verb.
If I had wanted to, I would have become a baker. No, that's a mistake. It must be said that if I had wanted to, I would have become a baker.
In French, there is a very simple rule that children are taught when they start to speak or write.
This rule is "ifs don't like grapes".
And often, even when adults make this mistake, they are told this again and again, saying "be careful, si's don't like grapes."
Or you can also say if you want to remember in a more pictorial way...
Saws don't like rays. Fish. This is a slightly more graphic way to remember this rule.
I'll give you examples of mistakes and what you should say. And then we're going to go over the overall grammar point with the tenses, the conjugation that you should use.
The beginning of the sentence is the part where there is the condition. If I had wanted.
And the second part, I would have become a baker. So the first part is the condition and the second part is the hypothesis. It's potentially, maybe what would have happened.
I'll give you more examples with the mistakes. Maybe you've heard similar ones before. If you could come, that would be nice. No.
I must say if you could come, it would be nice.
If he would have cooked the meal, I would have had time to watch TV. No.
If he had cooked the meal, I would have had time to watch TV.
The conditional is not used in the first part of the sentence.
So, as I said, it is already marked by the if.
But we will find the conditional in the second part of the sentence.
If I had eaten my birthday cake by myself, I would have been sick. No.
If I had eaten my birthday cake by myself, I would have been sick. On the other hand, if you don't put the if in the sentence, you can of course use the conditional in the first part of the sentence to mark the condition.
Let me give you an example.
If I had eaten my birthday cake alone, I would have been sick. On the other hand, you can say "I would have eaten my birthday cake by myself, I would have been sick".
You see, there is no if, so the sentence is correct.
Now let's move on to the small overall grammar point so that you can remember which tenses you can use after the if and which tenses you can use in the second part of the sentence.
After the if you can use, first of all, the present.
If you want to go to the sea, you can take my car.
We have present tense and in the second part of the sentence, we can also use present tense or we can use simple future tense.
Here is an example. If I am late, he will wait for me.
The second tense that can be used after if is the imperfect tense.
If I had a dog. In the first part of the sentence, we use the imperfect tense and in the second part, we use the present conditional because there is a direct link with the present.
If I had a dog, I would be happier.
So first the imperfect tense and then the present conditional.
The third tense that can be used after if is the plus-que-parfait.
It sounds very much like the imperfect tense, but it's compound.
In this case, if you use the past perfect in the first part of the sentence, in the second part, you can use either the present or the past conditional.
Here are two examples. The first one with the conditional present in the second part of the sentence.
If I had wanted to, I would be a singer today.
In the first part of the sentence we have the past perfect and in the second part, we have the present conditional because there is a direct link with the present.
Today, I would be a singer.
Second example where we have the past perfect in the first part of the sentence and the past conditional in the second.
I had my birthday last week and if I had eaten all my birthday cake alone, I would have been sick.
A hypothesis is given.
There is a condition and an assumption of what could have happened last week, so in the past.
And that's it for today.
I hope you enjoyed this video, that you liked this grammar point.
Tell me in comments if you happen to make this mistake, which is, as I told you, very frequent in French.
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I'll see you very, very soon.