FR: conditional meaning reportedly, allegedly, supposedly

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by charlie2, Apr 25, 2005.

  1. charlie2 Senior Member

    Hello everyone,
    I learned that for statements non-confirmed, we use the conditional tense. But when do we use the present conditional and when do we use the conditional passé? Can we use either one?
    Examples:
    1.Selon le journaliste, le bord de mer aurait attiré plus de vacanciers l'été dernier.
    2.L'avion s'est écrasé à l'atterrissage; il y aurait une trentaine de morts.
    (These examples are from my teacher.)
    Thank you.
    Edit: For the first example, our teacher said he would also accept passé composé.

    Moderator note: Multiple threads have been merged to create this one.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 21, 2013
  2. Cath.S.

    Cath.S. Senior Member

    Bretagne, France
    français de France
    Salut Charlie, la forme ? :)
    Selon certaines sources, les soldats tireraient sur les travailleurs humanitaires
    (conditionnel présent)
    and
    Selon certaines sources, les soldats auraient tiré sur les travailleurs humanitaires (conditionnel passé)
    do not mean the same thing.
    In the first sentence, the troops are thought to be still shooting at aid workers while in the second it is thought that it occurred in the past.
    It also seems to me very similar to English.
     
  3. TsaraBe Senior Member

    Miami, Florida USA
    English - US
    "Le nombre de policiers payées par le trésor public serait de loin plus élevé que le nombre de policiers effectivement en service."

    Cette phrase vient d'un article dans un journal et je ne comprends pas pourquoi l'auteur emploie le conditionel ici "serait" au lieu de la présente "est".

    J'ai vu des autres phrase ou on emploie le conditionel même que c'est traduit par la présente en anglais - est-ce que quelqu'un pourrait m'expliquer la raison pour le faire?

    Si je comprends bien la phrase et l'article, ce fait est déjà établi - alors pourquoi employer le conditionel "serait".

    Ma traduction en anglais serait:

    "The number of police paid by the public treasury is much higher than the number of police actually in service."

    Est-ce correct ça? Ou faut-il dire "The number of police paid by the public treasury would be..."??

    Merci d'avance!!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 21, 2013
  4. pbx

    pbx Senior Member

    Singapore
    French (France)
    here the conditional mode expreeses the fact that sources are missing and not necessarily reliable, I think.
     
  5. Bix

    Bix Senior Member

    Brussels, Belgium
    French - Belgium
    Exactly like Pbx says.

    > [D'après ce que nous avons appris,] "le nombre de policiers payées par le trésor public serait de loin plus élevé que le nombre de policiers effectivement en service."
     
  6. TsaraBe Senior Member

    Miami, Florida USA
    English - US
    Thank you for all of your replies. To answer your questions: the following sentence begins with "Si cela est le cas..."

    Alors, si je comprends bien, l'auteur lui-même ne doute pas ce fait mais l'information n'est pas complètement fiable?
     
  7. pbx

    pbx Senior Member

    Singapore
    French (France)
    L’auteur sait que l’information n’est pas 100% fiable mais la juge digne de publication.
     
  8. Laura91360 Junior Member

    near Paris
    France - français
    Exactly like Pbx and Bix say.

    The condinonal mode is frequently used in articles, reports... (for "intellectual honesty"). Is this the case in US or UK ?

    Let's wait for others advices.

    Laura
     
  9. TsaraBe Senior Member

    Miami, Florida USA
    English - US
    I'm not sure we would use the conditions in this case (in the US) - I would say something like "it is believed" or "it is thought".

    In this case I would say "the number of police officers paid by the public treasury is thought/believed to be much higher than..."

    Thank you for the clarification!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 21, 2013
  10. Jean-Michel Carrère Senior Member

    French from France
    Indeed, the conditional here is used by the reporter to make it clear to the reader that the information he / she is giving is based on external sources of information : "the number of police officers paid by the Treasury is believed to be ..."
     
  11. KeithCar Junior Member

    San Francisco, Californie
    États-Unis, Anglais
    Bonjour!

    Voudriez-vous avoir l'obligeance de m'expliquer pourquoi le conditionnel a utilisé dans le contexte suivant?

    « Il existerait à l’heure actuelle 250 000 ours bruns répandus sur l’hémisphère Nord. »

    Je crois que cela veut dire, en anglais, "There are currently 250,000 brown bears spread throughout the northern hemisphere".


    Merci!
     
  12. emma42 Senior Member

    North East USA
    British English
    Peut-être c'est parce que l'auteur devine le nombre d'ours?
     
  13. janpol

    janpol Senior Member

    France
    France - français
    Grevisse, à propos du conditionnel : il s'emploie pour marquer un fait douteux, éventuel, en particulier lorsqu'on présente ce fait comme un ouï-dire, comme une assertion dont on ne veut pas se porter garant.
    Ce nombre est sans doute très approximatif, il a été communiqué à l'auteur qui n'a pas la possibilité de le vérifier.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 27, 2014
  14. KeithCar Junior Member

    San Francisco, Californie
    États-Unis, Anglais
    "At this time, there are approximately 250,000 brown bears..."
    "About 250,000 brown bears are currently spread throughout..."
    "It has been estimated that there now exist 250,000 brown bears..."

    I believe these variations capture the meaning of Il existerait à l’heure actuelle. I would not have expected the use of the conditional tense (existerait) to express this uncertainty. I like it.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2008
  15. janpol

    janpol Senior Member

    France
    France - français
    Cet emploi du conditionnel est très fréquent, KeithCar : "Le Président aurait dit que.... " "Le suspect aurait avoué... " "45% des électeurs seraient prêts à voter pour le candidat X", " X et Y se seraient rencontrés","un attentat a eu lieu à ***, il y aurait de nombreuses victimes". On peut penser que c'est une précaution qui met les journalistes à l'abri de possibles procès (???)
     
  16. KeithCar Junior Member

    San Francisco, Californie
    États-Unis, Anglais
    Merci janpol, c'est à la fois intéressant et éclairant.

    English-speaking journalists often use allegedly or reportedly to express a degree of uncertainty, as in "Late last night, the state of Texas reportedly acquired the neighboring state of Oklahoma in a poker game in which the two governors allegedly played a winner-takes-all high-stakes game certain to raise questions in the White House."
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2008
  17. Sedulia

    Sedulia Senior Member

    Paris, France
    **Literate** American English
    I wish we had a useful feature like this in English, when you are repeating information you are not 100% sure is correct.

    You would have to translate it as "There are thought to be 250,000 bears" or "It is believed that there are 250,000 bears"....
     
  18. evil angel Junior Member

    English
    am i right in thinking that to convey 'reportedly' in a newspaper article you can use the conditional tense?
     
  19. DaniL Senior Member

    Paris
    slovène
    Je dirais que oui.

    Attendons ce que les francophones natifs en pensent.
     
  20. Tim~!

    Tim~! Senior Member

    Leicester, UK
    UK — English
    It's a very common manner that I've heard countless times on French news programmes, even in cases where it seems extremely odd to my ears.
     
  21. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
  22. roymail Senior Member

    Ardenne Belgium
    french (belgian)
    Oui, le conditionnel indique que vous ne vous prononcez pas.
    Y dit que X serait coupable : C'est ce que Y dit, je ne sais pas si c'est vrai. Je laisse à Y la responsabilité de son affirmation.
     
  23. raf0708 Senior Member

    Belgium
    french
    Oui, ce que dit roymail est tout à fait juste.
    En sortant du style journalistique, on pourrait également dire :
    Selon Y, X est coupable.
    ou encore,
    Selon Y, c'est X le coupable.
     
  24. DaniL Senior Member

    Paris
    slovène
    Dans ma Grammaire méthodique du français (Riegel, Pellat, Rioul), j'ai trouvé un passage très à propos de ta question :

    « L'incertitude inhérente au conditionnel est exploitée pour présenter un fait dont la vérité n'est pas garantie. La presse écrite et parlée en fait un large usage, en précisant que l'information est « au conditionnel », ce qui dégage la responsabilité du locuteur :

    (1) Une navette spatiale partirait bientôt pour Mars.
    (2) Un chercheur français aurait découvert un traitement miracle du cancer. »
     
  25. Fritznock Junior Member

    English- English
    Hey, I was reading an article online about a a gunman being put down by the police, when I came across the phrase

    Un policier a été blessé à la main et souffrirait d'une fracture du poignet.

    It translates to me as- A policeman was wounded in the hand and would suffer a fracture of the wrist.

    In proper English we would say - A policement was wounded in the hand and suffered a fracture of the wrist.

    Why is it that the conditionnel tense is used with the verb souffrir, when it is obvious that the event took place in the past?

    would be amazing if someone could help me out on this =D
     
  26. victoire s. Junior Member

    Pays de Loire, France
    French - France
    Hi! The conditionnel tense is used because it is not sure that he has a fracture of the wrist (they know he was wounded, but still have no proof that he has a fracture)
     
  27. Tim~!

    Tim~! Senior Member

    Leicester, UK
    UK — English
    It's just the way that the French report news. It puts a bit of distance between the reporter and the event, in much the same way as our own newscasters throw about "allegedly" and "reportedly".
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 6, 2010
  28. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    The conditionnal in French can also be used to report uncertain facts and would be translated to reportedly in English.

    A policeman was wounded in the hand and is reportedly suffering a fracture of the wrist.

    P.S.: Tim was quicker…
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2010
  29. Maddie Senior Member

    Wales, English
    Hello everyone,

    I am trying to write about my understanding of the Clearstream affair. This is a grammatical question. Am I right in thinking that if an accusation is made in French you can use the conditional? For example: 'la liste contiendrait 40 noms du gouvernement'.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated :)
     
  30. Lacuzon

    Lacuzon Senior Member

    France
    French - France
    Hi,

    Yes, it could be used

    But keep in mind that when using conditionnel the fact is not verified nor prouved.
     
  31. Kampernaut New Member

    English - British
    This came from Radio France Internationale's Journal En Français Facile which is supposed to be a 10 minute news bulletin using simple French. I'm only just starting to learn the language so it is not so simple for me.

    This is the full paragraph for context:

    Plusieurs dizaines de corps ont été découverts dans des puits, près proche de JOS, théâtre d'affrontements meurtriers entre chrétiens et musulmans en début de semaine. Et il y aurait encore soixante disparus.

    From looking up aurait in the dictionary, I think the last sentence is some use of a conditional tense of avoir but I don't understand the grammar. Please would somebody be kind enough to explain?

    […]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 6, 2010
  32. Lacuzon

    Lacuzon Senior Member

    France
    French - France
    You are right, il y aurait = There would be.

    […]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 6, 2010
  33. Kampernaut New Member

    English - British
    Hi Lacuzon,

    Thank you very much for your prompt and helpful reply.

    So that sentence means literally "And there would be another sixty missing."?

    In English that would be rather unusual way to phrase it. I think it would be more natural to say: "And there are another sixty missing."

    Why has the writer chosen the conditional here? Is it somehow representing an approximation or something?

    Is this a commonplace and natural mode of expression in French?

    Many thanks
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2010
  34. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    The conditional can be used in French to express uncertainty about the facts. In English you would use an adverb such as reportedly to convey the same meaning.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2010
  35. Kampernaut New Member

    English - British
    Ah! The penny drops. Thank you so much for your reply and the helpful references to other posts. I've learned so much from this one little sentence.
     
  36. firstyearout Senior Member

    Sydney
    English - Australian
    Bonjour,

    Dans la phrase suivante je voudrais savoir pourquoi on utilise le conditionnel.

    Jean-Yves Camus, chercheur et politologue, estime entre 2 500 et 3 500 le nombre de militants d’extrême droite radicale en France. Ils seraient répartis en cinq grandes familles : les skins, les identitaires, les néonazis, les hooligans et les cathos traditionalistes.

    Est-ce parcequ'on n'est pas sûr du fait, que c'est une estimation? Je sais qu'en anglais le conditionnel est souvent utilisé pour dire 'allegedly'. Est-ce le même sens?

    Merci d'avance!
     
  37. itka Senior Member

    France
    français
    Exactement ! Ce mode est très employé pour rapporter une information qu'on n'a pas pu vérifier, c'est pourquoi on le trouve fréquemment dans les journaux.
     
  38. Donaldos

    Donaldos Senior Member

    French - France
    Oui, c'est le même emploi.

    C'est courant lorsque l'on rapporte une information qui reste incertaine. Les journalistes en particulier en font grand usage.
     
  39. firstyearout Senior Member

    Sydney
    English - Australian
    Dans le même article le futur est souvent employé aussi pour rapporter ce qui s'est passé. Est-ce pour la même raison?

    Après la fusillade, les policiers retrouveront un véritable arsenal dans un fourgon Renault.

    «La cellule de déminage a pris de gros risques pour les désamorcer», précisera le président du tribunal.

    Merci!
     
  40. itka Senior Member

    France
    français
    Non. C'est simplement pour rapporter, de façon vivante, un événement futur par rapport aux autres du même récit.
     
  41. lacanuck Senior Member

    English
    Bonjour à tous,

    I heard that when French journalists write about a crime, they use the conditional tense because they're describing what an accused has done. That is, nothing has been proven or settled yet.

    Well, the other day I read an article where they employed both the conditionnel passé AND the passé composé in the same sentence. Can someone please explain why? Here's the passage:

    Après une réunion avec des lycéens qui se serait mal passée, mercredi, l'enseignante est arrivée dans l'établissement ce jeudi matin avec un bidon d'essence. Après s'être aspergée de carburant, elle aurait allumé le feu devant ses élèves en leur criant «c'est pour vous».


    In the first sentence, the first action is in the conditionnel passé ("se serait mal passée)...but why do they then use the passé composé ("est arrivée") ? Why isn't the second action also in the conditional form?

    Thanks for your help!
     
  42. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    Welcome, Lacanuck!

    You have understood correctly that conditionnel and the conditionnel passé are often used for alleged but unconfirmed facts. This matter has been discussed extensively already, and I've merged your question into an existing thread on the topic.

    However, there is no need to use a conditional tense for portions of a sequence of events that are known to be true. The teacher did in fact arrive at school with a can of gasoline. Apparently that has been established as fact. It's not subject to interpretation the way "things went poorly" is, nor is it dependent on potentially uncertain eyewitness accounts about exactly what she said as she was lighting herself on fire.
     
  43. lacanuck Senior Member

    English
    Thanks, Jann, for your quick response. I'm afraid I'm still confused, however. Could you please clarify a few things?

    1. You said "It's not subject to interpretation the way things went poorly." (The meeting.) If it's not subjective, then it would be a fact, right? Then why do they use the conditionnel passe for a fact?

    2. The eyewitnesses saw her arrive (so they use the passe compose, "est arrivee")...but they also saw her light herself on fire, so why not use the passe compose here as well? Apparently the only thing they were potentially uncertain about was what she said.

    Sorry, but this is all so confusing :(

    Thanks again for your help.
     
  44. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    1. la réunion se serait mal passé = conditionnel passé. That the meeting happened is an indisuputable and confirmed fact, but the way things went during the meeting is not. So we have conditionnel because how well something went is not objective fact: it's subject to interpretation. The journalist can only report that "apparently the meeting went badly," because s/he was not personally there to observe the meeting and can only base that statement on what others said. Different people in attendance may even have described how it went differently -- one person saying that it was a disaster, another saying that it was a bit rough, another saying that it wasn't any worse than usual, etc.

    2. In elle aurait allumé le feu devant ses élèves en leur criant «c'est pour vous», the conditionnel passé refers not only to the setting of the fire but also to what she said. As the journalist can only go on what witnesses (her traumatized students) recall from the horrible scene, it is difficult to be 100% positive that these were the teacher's exact and only words. So "allegedly, the teacher lit herself on fire crying "this is for you!"

    It is the reporter's (or newspaper's) choice to use the a conditional any time they don't want to assume responsibility for getting things 100% perfectly accurate. Sometimes the facts and situations of a story take a while to emerge in full detail, and this journalistic style allows the paper to communicate the news as the story develops. Please do read through the previous posts in this thread to get a better feel for how the conditional gets used in these sorts of situations.
     
  45. Music22 Senior Member

    English
    "Il y a eu un incendie à la suite duquel il y aurait de sérieux dégâts. - there was a fire which apparently caused serious damage

    "ceux qui auraient lancé les fusées n'ont pas eu le droit de se défendre au tribunal. - those who have allegedly thrown the rockets were not allowed to defend themselves in court.

    Why is one using the conditional and the other using the past conditional? They both seem to be the same tense in english
     
  46. radagasty Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    Australia, Cantonese
    The English translation of the second sentence is faulty, failing to follow the sequence of tenses:

    Those who had allegedly launched the rockets were not allowed to defend themselves in court.
     
  47. boterham Senior Member

    Rijsel, France
    French, France
    To me the 1st sentence emphasises the result in the present (fire/arson and related damages) whereas the 2nd one seems to have happened a longer while ago and/or there is no immediate consequence in or connection with the present.
     
  48. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    If you allege something about the present, you use a present conditional; if you allege something about the past, you use the past conditional.

    Il y aurait de sérieux dégâts. = There is allegedly serious damage.
    ceux qui auraient lancé les fusées = those who had allegedly thrown the rockets
     
  49. jacquesbda

    jacquesbda Senior Member

    English
    <<The condinonal mode is frequently used in articles, reports... (for "intellectual honesty"). Is this the case in US or UK ?>>
    In the US, "is alleged to have" is common usage in cases of criminal cases which have not been resolved
     

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