"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?
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).
That did help. Thank you! :)
That was a nice breakdown and it made a lot of sense. Thank you!
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