Si Clause Threads - Second Conditional: Imperfect + Conditional

French class exercise

Student at work in library
Cultura RM Exclusive/Luc Beziat/Getty Images

This practice exercise can be done as a class or in small groups. It requires familiarity with the second conditional (si clauses), including imperfect and conditional conjugations.

What to Do

Print out a table for each group (see below).

Write the first part of a conditional sentence beginning with si (see suggestions below) in the first table cell. Since this is the second conditional, the si clause needs to be in the imperfect.

Invent a "result" clause, using the conditional, for the second cell.

For example:

If clauseResult clause            
Si je gagnais au loto,j'achèterais une nouvelle voiture. 

Next, transform the result clause into a si clause and write it in the first column of the second row. (Remember that the verb which was in the conditional now needs to be in the imperfect.) Then invent a corresponding result clause to continue the thread.
Si je gagnais au loto,j'achèterais une nouvelle voiture. 
Si j'achetais une nouvelle voiture,je la mènerais à l'école. 

Transform the second result clause into a si clause, and so on, until you have completed the thread.
Si je gagnais au loto,j'achèterais une nouvelle voiture. 
Si j'achetais une nouvelle voiture,je la mènerais à l'école. 
Si je la menais à l'école,les autres étudiants m'admireraient. 
Si les autres étudiants m'admiraient,ils m'inviteraient à déjeuner. 

To make sure students understand the exercise, start by demonstrating on the board: write a si clause and call on students as you go through the entire thread collectively.

Then divide the class into groups of 2 to 4 students and provide each group with an "if" clause, or have them come up with their own. After each group has completed their thread, either have students read them out loud, or - if there are likely to be a lot of mistakes, as in the case of weaker students - collect the papers and read the threads out loud yourself, either correcting them as you read, or writing the sentences on the board and going over them together.


  • To challenge students' creativity, have each group start with the same si clause, and then compare how each one turned out at the end.
  • Assign a different si clause to each group, and after they have each completed one row of the table, have them trade with another group. Each group will then complete the clause in the other groups' tables, and then exchange once again with a third group.
  • You can also use this exercise to practice the first conditional and the third conditional.

Starter Clauses

You and your students can of course invent your own "if" clauses,* but here are some ideas to get started:

  1. Si j'allais à la lune
  2. Si j'avais un souhait
  3. Si je n'avais qu'une semaine à vivre
  4. Si j'étais le président
  5. Si j'étais riche
  6. Si j'étais toi
  7. Si je faisais mes devoirs tous les jours
  8. Si je me cassais la jambe
  9. Si je me mariais
  10. Si je pouvais faire la connaissance de n'importe qui dans le monde
  11. Si je pouvais remonter dans le temps
  12. Si je pouvais visiter n'importe quel pays
  13. Si je trouvais un portefeuille dans la rue
  14. Si je voyais un OVNI (objet volant non identifié)
  15. S'il y avait des formes de vie intelligente sur d'autres planètes
  16. Si les chiens pouvaient parler
  17. Si mon meilleur ami me mentait
  18. Si notre professeur était en retard
  1. Si nous étudiions ensemble
  2. Si nous savions le secret du bonheur

*If you come up with a great starter clause, please share your ideas.


This exercise needs tables with two columns and four rows. Printable pages of tables are available in Microsoft Word format; you can save and edit this if, for example, you want to type the starter "if" clause into the first cell of each table. Print enough copies so that you can cut them up and provide at least one table for each group of students.

Si Clauses