When do we use them?

When to use them?

Si clauses or conditionals produce conditional sentences, with one clause stating a condition or possibility and a second clause naming a result produced by that condition. In English, such sentences are called “if/then” constructions. The French si, of course, means “if” in English.


How to form them

Sentences which contain two parts, one of which is an ‘if’ clause, normally follow one of the following patterns :

Present + Present

This construction is used for things that happen regularly. Note that the si in these sentences could probably be replaced by quand (when) with little or no difference in meaning.

S’il pleut, nous ne sortons pas. / Nous ne sortons pas s’il pleut.

If it rains, we don’t go out. / We don’t go out if it rains.

Si je ne veux pas lire, je regarde la télé. / Je regarde la télé si je ne veux pas lire.

If I don’t want to read, I watch TV. / I watch TV if I don’t want to read.

Present + Future

The present + future construction is used for events that are likely to occur. The present tense follows si; it is the situation that is required before the other action will take place.

Si j’ai le temps, je le ferai. / Je le ferai si j’ai le temps..

If I have time, I will do it. / I will do it if I have time.

Si tu étudies, tu réussiras à l’examen. / Tu réussiras à l’examen si tu étudies.

If you study, you will pass the test. / You’ll pass the test if you study.

Present + Imperative

This construction is used to give an order, assuming that the condition is met.

The present tense follows si; it is the situation that is required before the other action becomes a command.

Si tu peux, viens me voir. / Viens me voir si tu peux.

If you can, come see me. / Come see me if you can.

(If you can’t, then don’t worry about it.)

Si vous avez de l’argent, payez la facture. / Payez la facture si vous avez de l’argent.

‘Passé composé’ + Present, Future, or Imperative

Si clauses may also use the passé composé followed by the present, future, or imperative. These constructions are basically the same as above; the difference is that the condition is in the present perfect rather than the simple present.

Si tu as fini, tu peux partir. / Tu peux partir si tu as fini.

If you have finished, you can leave.

Si tu n’as pas fini, tu me le diras. / Tu me le diras si tu n’as pas fini.

If you haven’t finished, [you will] tell me.

Si tu n’as pas fini, dis-le-moi. / Dis-le-moi si tu n’as pas fini.

If you haven’t finished, tell me.

Translate: Si j'ai le temps, je le ferai
Your answer should include: if I have time / I will do it
Which three tenses work with the present tense in a 'si' clause?
Your answer should include: present / future / imperative