All About the French Word Si

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The French word si can be an adverb or a conjunction. Either way, si has several meanings and is used in numerous French constructions. Practicing the use of this word is important for grasping its nuances.

Si = If

Si is the French word for "if":

  • Je ne sais pas si je veux y aller. (I don't know if I want to go.)
  • Dis-moi si ça te conviendra. (Tell me if that will work for you.)
  • Et si je ne suis pas fatigué? (And if I'm not tired?)
  • Si j'étais riche, j'achèterais une maison. (If I were rich, I would buy a house.)

Si = So

Si can be used as an intensifier:

  • Je suis si fatigué. (I'm so tired.)
  • J'ai si faim. (I'm so hungry.)
  • Je ne savais pas qu'il était si mignon. (I didn't know he was so cute.)

Si = As, So

Si can make a comparison:

  • Il n'est pas si intelligent qu'il pense. (He's not as smart as he thinks.)
  • Ce n'est pas si facile. (It's not as easy as that, It's not that easy.)

Si = While, Whereas

Si can put two clauses in opposition:

  • S'il est beau, sa femme est laide. (Whereas he is handsome, his wife is ugly.)
  • Si tu es gentil, ton frère est méchant. (You're kind, while your brother is mean.)

Si = However, No Matter How

Si can be followed by a subjunctive clause to express a concession:

  • Si beau qu'il fasse, je ne peux pas sortir (No matter how nice the weather is, I can't go out)
  • Si gentil que tu sois, je ne t'aime pas (However kind you are, I don't love you)

Si = Yes

Si means "yes" in response to a negative question or statement:

  • Tu ne vas pas venir? Si, je vais venir. (You're not going to come? Yes, I am going to come.)
  • N'as-tu pas d'argent? Si, j'en ai. (Don't you have any money? Yes, I do.)
  • Jeanne n'est pas prête. Si, si! (Jeanne isn't ready. Yes, yes!)

Si = Did I Hear Correctly, Is This What You're Asking?

If someone asks a question and you're not sure (or can't believe) you heard correctly, you can request confirmation or clarification by repeating what you did hear with the word si:
Si j'ai faim?
(Are you asking) if I'm hungry?
(You couldn't really hear the question)
Si je veux quoi?
You're asking if I want what?
(You're not sure you heard correctly; you heard "Do you want a free TV?")
Si j'ai combien d'enfants?
You're asking if I have how many kids?
(You didn't hear "how many," or you heard "Do you have 7 kids?")

Et Si = What if, How About

In informal French, et si is often tacked on the beginning of a suggestion (with the verb in the imperfect):

  • Et si on allait au ciné? (How about going to the movies?)
  • Et si tu amenais ton frère? (Why don't you bring your brother?)
  • Et si on parlait d'amour? (What if we talked about love?)
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Team, ThoughtCo. "All About the French Word Si." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Team, ThoughtCo. (2023, April 5). All About the French Word Si. Retrieved from Team, ThoughtCo. "All About the French Word Si." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 29, 2023).