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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

Modern Descendants of Latin           397
(a) if he came I should go; (b) if he had come I should have gone Here5 as
in future-past expressions, illustrated above, the French conditional is
equivalent to our construction involving should or would with the
infinitive of the main verb For our simple past tense-form of an
ordinary verb of the ^/-clause, as in (a), or of the helper as in (6), the
French equivalent is the ordinary imperfect (or pluperfect) The
following examples illustrate French conditional statements.
(a)  French'     Sifavais de I*argent je Facheterais
English:    If I had money I should buy it
(b)  French      S*il avail eu de I*argent elle I'aurait achete.
English     If he had had money she would have bought it
Spanish usage is more tncky. Where we use the would-should con-
struction., it is always safe to use the conditional in the main clause, and
Spaniards will not misunderstand a foreigner who uses the ordinary
(indicative) present or past in the z/~clause. They themselves resort to
the subjunctive form, as we use were for was> iss are:
Spanish, le dorian elpremio sifuese mas aphcado
English:   they would give him the prize if he were more industrious.
Spanish * Si tuviera dinero lo compraria
English:   If I had money I should buy it
Spanish: Si hubiera tenido dinero lo habria comprado
English,   If I had had money I should have bought it.
The mam thing for the beginner to know about the Romance subjunc-
tive is how to leave it alone till he (or she) has mastered all the grammar
essential to clear statement The conditional turns up in many situations
which more or less imply condition, e g suggestions, and in general
where we use should-would with the infinitive in a simple statement For
instance, it is a useful form for polite request In headline idiom the
French conditional may indicate uncertainty or even rumour, as illus-
trated by the last of the ensuing examples
Je ne leferais pas ainsi    I shouldn't do it like that.
Voudnez-vous bien m* aider un peu?   Would you kindly help me a bit?
Quefaimerais te vow1   How I should love to see you1
Dorian rencontrerait Hitler    Will Darlan meet Hitler?
It is important for anyone who is taking up French to know several
common expressions which involve the conditional form of certain
helpers, e g vouloir (to want) and devoir (to owe) in the sense would like
to> and ought to, e g
je voudrais bien te visiter      I should much like to visit you.
il ne devrait point lefaire.     He shouldn't do it.