C'est donc un coup de chance si tu t'es retrouvé à travailler pour Google.

Here, the fact that the person ended up working for Google is not a hypothetical situation, but the conjunction "si" is used.

How does using "si" in this manner differ in meaning from using "que"?


I wonder if this « si » sentence structure is used when you want to emphasise the very (one) reason why something happened.

= C'est donc seulement parce que tu as eu un coup de chance que tu t'es retrouvé à travailler pour Google.

If I’m correct in my assumption, does the following sentence sound natural? It uses « si » to desribe an event that has already happened, not a hypothetical situation.

Si je t'en ai parlé, c'est parce que je te fais confiance à 100 %.

  • LUNA, your questions always make me realize I don't even know my own language. I couldn't explain why this formulation exists, what I can say is that you're right, it's not a hypothetical situation, and there is no difference with que tu te sois retrouvé à. One more thing: you could hear it in present tense (si tu te retrouves à), in which case you cannot know if it's in the hypothetical meaning or this consequence meaning.
    – Destal
    Sep 7, 2016 at 13:47
  • @SimonDéchamps: I've just updated my post. I wonder if I'm on the right track here? Merci. Sep 7, 2016 at 18:08
  • 1
    The sentence you added sounds totally natural. And then I wonder: is it not the same than in English? Can't you say: "if I told you about that, it's because I trust you"? And so: "it's only a matter of chance if you're working for Google now"?
    – Destal
    Sep 7, 2016 at 21:38

2 Answers 2


As it happen, in this particular sentence, que is also possible with, although it would call for the subjunctive in the subordinate:

C'est donc un coup de chance que tu te sois retrouvé à travailler pour Google.

And so, to answer your question as to "How using si in this manner differ in meaning from using que, I'm with Simon in that, choosing one or the other makes absolutely no change in the meaning of the sentence, whether facially or as far as emphasis is concerned.

I'm going to guess your confusion may come from the way if is far more likely to express a possibility in English. Indeed I don't think this particular sentence would translate naturally to a construction with if. However, French si expresses more generally a condition rather than a possibility (Grevisse, Bon Usage 14th ed, §1153 and following), and a condition need not be hypothetical at all.

  • @C: I'm curious as to the reason why the sentence you provided requires the subjunctive. 1. Is it because by saying "It is only because of a stroke of luck that you ...", you are stating an opinion? 2. Or is it because the subordinate clause deals with a possibility, like "if you ended up working for Google, that's because ..."? Merci. Sep 9, 2016 at 12:57
  • There is no way to explain a question that involves "why" anything about the subjunctive in the space allotted for a comment.
    – Circeus
    Sep 11, 2016 at 21:06

Si has quite a few meanings, one of them being the introduction the premise in an inference (see II a in the link above). Using que remove the deduction aspect. Using seulement parce que not only remove the deduction aspect, but also leaves the impression that the person should not be working for Google (the version with si giving the impression that merit was not enough, chance was also needed).

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