Expressing politeness with the conditional in French

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Expressing politeness with the conditional

We use the conditional forms of vouloir and pouvoir to ask something in a polite way.
Je voudrais un café. I would like a coffee.
Tu pourrais me prêter de l’argent ? Could you lend me some money?
This is how they are conjugated:
vouloir en
Je voudrais
Tu voudrais
Il voudrait/elle voudrait
Nous voudrions
Vous voudriez
Ils voudraient/elles voudraient
pouvoir en
Je pourrais
Tu pourrais
Il pourrait/elle pourrait
Nous pourrions
Vous pourriez
Ils pourraient/elles pourraient


We can also use other verbs in the conditional tense to show politeness. These include verbs such as avoir avoir, conditionnel présent (to have), aimer aimer, conditionnel présent (to like).
Vous auriez du feu, s’il vous plaît ? Do you have a light, please?
Note: Using the present tense je veux (I want) instead of the conditional je voudrais (I would like) is considered impolite.


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