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My French friend used a construction that confused me. He used two conditional form verbs next to each other, something like “Tu mangerais ça tu l’aimerais bien !”

He said it’s informal French and I’m guessing the meaning is “If you eat that you’ll like it!”

Is it common in informal French to have these back-to-back conditional verbs? Or is this a regional thing?

Note: it was basically a si clause without si and no imperfect tense

  • My understanding is that this is an informal equivalent to the si + conditional structure. Compare English "If you would've tried a little harder, you would've won" -- strictly speaking, this is unacceptable, but you hear native speakers doing this regularly. An even closer equivalent, one that omits the "if", could be "You go in there, you're never coming out." The first clause implicitly acts as a condition or, to pin it down a little better, it implicitly sets up a scenario: It modifies the discourse context to anticipate the second clause. That, I think, is what is going on here. – Luke Sawczak May 21 at 16:45
  • see also french.stackexchange.com/questions/6827/… – Greg May 21 at 17:53
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    The question mentioned as providing an answer to the present question does not do so; it has almost nothing to do with the use of two consecutive conditional forms, a usage which is well established. The question at hand is what makes this particular usage in the given form correct or not. – LPH May 21 at 18:56
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The problem is not the grammar but the semantics; it is perfectly correct to use two consecutive conditionals, provided the actions correspond; for instance, these sentences are normal;

  • Tu la connaitrais tu en parlerais autrement.
  • Vous arriveriez de bonne heure vous auriez de meilleures places.
  • Le temps serait au beau nous vous inviterions à la campagne.

In “Tu mangerais ça tu l’aimerais bien !” there is a misundertanding between three actions that the verb can express: "manger" as a one time action and "manger" as "being used to eat sth", "eating willingly sth usually", and then another to be reckoned with later. If we choose the first possibility we get nonsense because the condition of liking something is not a natural consequence of the act of using it; this is quite analogous to the situation conferred by the sentence "If you would wear red dresses you would like red dresses.". Supposing you are a woman you'll say "Well, if I do wear them, of course that's because I like them and again if I've never liked red I don't see how wearing a red dress is going to make me like red". So the semantics, what's been intended as a message, is dubious. If we choose the second meaning we get also nonsense and that's obvious because, since the person is used to eating whatever it is we're talking about, that must be because they like it. The syntax then must be changed to give meaning to the sentence. The idea is that you must not consider the action as fully performed: the idea of having eaten of something fully, as in a meal, is wrong, instead the idea must be that of "eating some"; that is not communicated by the form given; to make the difference clear we add usual words to the form;

  • Tu en mangerais tu l'aimerais bien ! (much as "Tu y goutterais tu l'aimerais bien !)
  • Tu mangerais de ça tu l'aimerais bien ! (other possibility, according to variations in the context)

Those forms are however still not a very good choice as they are also used to mean "being used to eat sth", eating willingly sth usually".

  • — I've got strawberry preserve and toast, do you eat that?
    J'ai de la confiture de fraise et du pain grillé, vous en mangez ? (Vous mangez de ça ?)
    — Oui, j'en mange.

In the end, even if the corrected sentences are valid and can be used to communicate the same idea, it is more expressive, because clearer, to say this;

  • Tu en/y gouterais tu l'aimerais bien ! or
  • Tu l'essaierais tu l'aimerais bien !
  • Note that "Tu y goutterais tu l'aimerais bien !" is grammatically incorrect though frequently used in some regions of France near the south east (and neighbouring regions such as Switzerland and Val d'Aoste where French is spoken). More info here – zdimension Jun 2 at 21:10
  • @zdimension Je ne suis pas du tout d'accord ; il y a deux possibilité pour « gouter » : « gouter à » (manger, prendre une petite quantité de qqc) et « gouter de » (manger pour la première fois). Il me semble que dans les deux cas puisse être compris qu'il s'agit d'un essai. Essayez des ngrams pour « goûtez-y », « j'y goûte » et « il y goûte ». Quelle est votre explication ? – LPH Jun 2 at 21:52
  • Au temps pour moi, je ne sais pas vraiment comment l'expliquer mais l'usage "goûter à [qqch]" qui est pourtant très courant m'est entièrement sorti de l'esprit (au point que j'ai dû chercher des exemples sur Internet pour m'en convaincre), si bien que la tournure "y goûter" m'a paru étrange, d'où mon commentaire. Erreur entièrement de ma part, due au manque de sommeil sans doute. To OP: please ignore my first comment. – zdimension Jun 2 at 22:07
  • @zdimension Oui, je comprends, un de ces trous, une de ces lacunes incompréhensibles tant elles paraissent élémentaires ; ça m'arrive aussi. Pour le verbe je ne peux pas mieux faire que citer le TLFi : « 1. Manger ou boire pour la première fois. Goûter d'une boisson exotique, d'une orange amère. Tiens, je pourrais faire goûter de ma cuisine aux patrons. ». Je ne crois pas faire une distinction bien nette entre les deux moi-même. – LPH Jun 2 at 22:09
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I think what your friend said was:

Si tu mangeais ça, tu l'aimerais.

Which is an imperfect tense followed by a past conditionnal tense.

Both of these tenses sound very similar with regular verbs, so they often get blended together. But these are regularly used informal structures.

A more formal version, which makes the tenses slightly more discernable, is:

Si tu avais mangé ça, tu l'aurais aimé.

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    hmm, well it was without si and he used the conditional both times and i asked him why he used it twice so it wasn’t the si + imperfect + conditional – jacoballens May 21 at 16:08
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    In French, we have two ways of using conditional tenses : 1) If ...+ (past tense) + , would ; OR 2) ...would .... , .....+ would. It's perfectly correct! Many French people use this syntax too. Tu le saurais, tu l'utiliserais. ;) (= si tu le savais, tu l'utiliserais) – Mat May 21 at 18:51

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