Why Subjunctive

NatashaA2Kwiziq community member

Why Subjunctive

Hello,

I am very confused why this is the subjunctive and not the conditional. I am still having some trouble between the two at times.

J’achèterai la voiture à condition qu’elle soit en bon état.
I’ll buy the car provided that it’s in good condition.

This seems like it should be conditional because it is saying that *if* a condition is met, something will ensue. Why is it not the conditional?

Asked 7 months ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

à condition que always is followed by the subjunctive. There are a lot of phrases that follow that pattern, as I'm sure you already suspected. Some are de peur que, sans que, avant que, etc.

If you now ask "why"? Then things become a bit handwavy. You can think of "under the condition that" as casting some doubt whether the condition is met or not. That's often an indication that the subjunctive is needed.

JimC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hi Natasha,

https://www.lawlessfrench.com/subjunctivisor/

The subjunctive mood is used to express:-

Wish, emotion, doubt, desire, interrogative, negation (typically penser / croire), general statements.

You would normally come across this grammatical mood about level B1 but there is no bar to exploring it earlier if desired.

If you try the link above you will see that "à condition que" requires the subjunctive because one or other of the feelings listed above is being expressed in the  "J’achèterai la voiture à condition qu’elle soit en bon état." sentence.

Hope this helps.

Jim


NatashaA2Kwiziq community member

Thanks Jim. Yes, I'm in B1 and B2 material which is why I'm trying to understand this. This sentence came from the subjunctivisor. 

I still don't understand why this wouldn't be the conditional (again, it's a condition). Is it just that if I use "if" it's conditional, but I'd I use "a condition que" it's subjective, even though these are equivalent in meaning.

MaartenC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Sometimes it is just the way it is - but this is not specifically an "if ... then" clause. Some clauses/expressions always need the subjunctive - consider that "à condition que  . ."  is expressing/raising doubt about whether something is true. In this case for example the expression 'hints/implies' that the speaker/buyer has previous experience with the listener/seller or awareness of a similar situation, and reason to doubt whether the car is indeed in good condition. The expression used conveys the meaning the speaker intends.

AlanC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

We should also point out that if anything were to be in the conditional it would be "j'achèterais". You don't use the conditional in the "if" part of the sentence, but in the thing you would do if the condition is met.

NatashaA2Kwiziq community member

This is very helpful! Thanks all!! 

Why Subjunctive

Hello,

I am very confused why this is the subjunctive and not the conditional. I am still having some trouble between the two at times.

J’achèterai la voiture à condition qu’elle soit en bon état.
I’ll buy the car provided that it’s in good condition.

This seems like it should be conditional because it is saying that *if* a condition is met, something will ensue. Why is it not the conditional?

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