14.5 - Other uses of the conditional

Apart from straightforward conditionality or possibility, other shades of meaning expressed by the conditional include:

a possibility dependent on something else: ...коаліція є, бо якби її не було, то не було б і уряду the coalition exists, for, if it didn't, there would be no government
a possibility which is desired or dreamed of by someone: ...носив би тебе весь час на руках і цілував би, був би ніжним до тебе. На жаль, тебе нема, і все це – марні мрії... I would treat you like royalty and would kiss you, I would be tender ... Alas, you're not here, and all this is vain dreaming
a command or request expressed politely or as a desirable action: Зайшов би ти до Максима, поговорив із ним, може б ми у нього завтра зібралися? You couldn't call on Maksym and have a word with him? Could we perhaps meet at his place tomorrow?

The perfect conditional "I had done" can be used in Ukrainian by combining the verb with the same form of the verb бути in the past, for example:

Якби вона була сказала, що їй потрібні гроші, ми б їй допомогли. If she had said she needed money, we would have helped her.

This construction, however, rather than denoting a timeframe (possibility or conditionality further back in the past) tends to suggest irreversibility, that is, the action had taken place, but then it was too late to do anything about it.

Exercise 14.5A

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© 2007 Marta Jenkala