spanish conditional tense

Spanish Conditional Tense

The Spanish Conditional tense expresses the action of the verb as “possible”. Thus, it is generally used to communicate a hypothetical situation or make requests in polite manner, amongst other things.

The Spanish Conditional verb tense conjugation is pretty easy to learn because it only has two forms:

  1. Simple Conditional -> Condicional Simple
  2. Perfect Conditional -> Condicional Compuesto or Condicional Perfecto

Spanish Simple Conditional Uses

You may apply this verb tense conjugation with the following purposes:

  1. To express a wish:
  2. Me gustaría ir a la feria. -> I would like to go to the funfair.
  3. Querríamos poner el árbol de Navidad en familia pero no será posible porque mi hijo mayor estará de viaje. -> We would like to decorate the Christmas tree as a family but it won’t be possible because my eldest son will be away.
  4. Me encantaría ir a la fiesta pero tengo que terminar mis deberes escolares. -> I would love to go to the party but I have to finish my homework.

To ask for guidance or provide suggestions:

Deberías llamar a tu madre. -> You should call your mother.

Marcos tendría que hablar con el padre de la novia antes de pedir su mano. -> Marcos would have to speak to the father of the bride before asking for her hand.

¿Qué zapatos crees que le combinarían mejor a mi vestido? -> What shoes do you think would fit my dress better?

Le irían mejor los zapatos negros. -> The black shoes would go better.

Request things in a polite manner:

¿Podría darme la hora por favor? -> Could you please give me the time?

¿Sería tan amable de indicarme dónde está el baño? -> Would you be so kind to tell me where the bathroom is?


¿Le importaría si me siento junto a la ventana? -> Would you mind if I sit by the window?

Le agradecería inmensamente si pudiera tener mi pedido listo para hoy mismo. -> I would be immensely grateful if you could have my order ready for today.

¿Querrías ser mi pareja en el baile de graduación? -> Would you like to be my partner for the school prom?

To precise doubt or possibility in the past.

¿A qué hora llegaron ayer en la noche? Llegaríamos alrededor de las 2:00am. -> At what time did you arrive yesterday night? We arrived around 2:00am.

Me dijiste que llegarías no más tarde de la media noche. -> You told me you wouldn’t be later than midnight.

Pensamos que los chicos estarían estudiando para su examen pero en realidad se fueron de fiesta. -> We thought the guys would be studying for their exam but in fact they went out partying.

¿Cuántos años tendrías cuando entraste a la escuela naval? -> How old you were when you enrolled the naval academy?

To talk about a probable future:

El joven dijo que podría entregar el paquete la siguiente semana. -> The guy said that he could deliver the package next week.

My madre querría ver el espectáculo de danza de su nieta. -> My mother could want to see her granddaughter’s dance show.

Según el pronóstico del tiempo, esta tarde podría llover. -> According to the weather forecast, this afternoon could rain.

As you can see, this last set of examples is translated to English as ‘could’.

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Conditional Simple Tense Conjugation

The conjugation for regular verbs in the Simple Conditional tense is formed with the root of the infinitive verb and the following endings: –ía, –ías, –íamos, –íais, and –ían.

ROOT ENDING
Infinitive -ía
-ías
-ía
-ía
-íamos
-íais
-ían
-ían

Look at the table below, which exemplifies the verb ‘hablar’ (to talk).

PRONOUN INFINITIVE ROOT VERB ENDING HABLAR (TO TALK)
Yo Hablar ía Hablaría
Tú/vos Hablar ías Hablarías
Usted Hablar ía Hablaría
Él/ella Hablar ía Hablaría
Nosotros/nosotras Hablar íamos Hablaríamos
Vosotros/vosotras Hablar íais Hablaríais
Ustedes Hablar ían Hablarían
Ellos/ellas Hablar ían Hablarían

The suffixes are always the same; regardless whether they are regular or irregular verbs.

REGULAR VERBS
PRONOUN AMAR (TO LOVE) CORRER (TO RUN) MORIR (TO DIE)
Yo Amaría Correría Moriría
Tú/vos Amarías Correrías Morirías
Usted Amaría Correría Moriría
Él/ella Amaría Correría Moriría
Nosotros/nosotras Amaríamos Correríamos Moriríamos
Vosotros/vosotras Amaríais Correríais Moriríais
Ustedes Amarían Correrían Morirían
Ellos/ellas Amarían Correrían Morirían
IRREGULAR VERBS
PRONOUN ATRAVESAR (TO CROSS) TENER (TO HAVE) DECIR (TO SAY)
Yo Atravesaría Tendría Diría
Tú/vos Atravesarías Tendrías Dirías
Usted Atravesaría Tendría Diría
Él/ella Atravesaría Tendría Diría
Nosotros/nosotras Atravesaríamos Tendríamos Diríamos
Vosotros/vosotras Atravesaríais Tendríais Diríais
Ustedes Atravesarían Tendrían Dirían
Ellos/ellas Atravesarían Tendrían Dirían

Spanish Perfect Conditional

The Conditional tense can also take a compound form known as Condicional Compuesto.

You might find it comparable to the Conditional Perfect tense in English, which looks like this:

WOULD + HAVE + PAST PARTICIPLE

The Spanish Perfect Conditional is formed with an auxiliary verb, in this case ‘haber’, one of the Castilian verbs that mean ‘to be’, conjugated in the Simple Conditional tense, and the Participle of the main verb.

HABRÍA + PARTICIPLE

(habría) + (amado)

The following chart shows how to conjugate ‘haber’ in simple conditional with all the pronouns.

PRONOUN HABER (TO BE) SIMPLE CONDITIONAL
Yo Habría
Tú/vos Habrías
Usted Habría
Él/ella Habría
Nosotros/nosotras Habríamos
Vosotros/vosotras Habríais
Ustedes Habrían
Ellos/ellas Habrían

Next, the participle is formed by adding the suffixes –ado or –ido to the root verb.

Examples:

  • LOVE: Amar ® amado
  • EAT: Comer ® comido
  • LAUGH: Reír ® reído

Some verbs have irregular participles, like the verb ‘to write’, which changes from ‘escribir’ to ‘escrito’, and the verb ‘to say’, which changes from ‘decir’ to ‘dicho’.

You may have to memorize the full list of Spanish verbs, but be confident that when you see a verb with the –do ending it is likely to be a participle you came across with!

Uses of Spanish Conditional Perfect:

Some of the purposes of the Conditional Perfect include:

  • Describing a hypothetical desire:

Example:

  • Me habría gustado que llegaras a tiempo para mi recital. -> I would have liked that you arrive on time for my recital.
  • Expressing frustration over something that didn’t happen or should have happened differently:
  • ¡No puedo creer que no me invitaste a la fiesta! Habría querido acompañarte en tu cumpleaños. -> I can’t believe you didn’t invite me to your party! I would have loved to accompany you in your birthday.
  • Manifesting a supposition of something that already happened in the past.
    • Quizá Lucía está enferma, de otro modo no habría dejado plantada a su mejor amiga en la cafetería esta mañana. -> Maybe Lucía is ill, otherwise she wouldn’t have stood up her best friend at the cafeteria this morning.

Conditional Sentences


Like in English, the Spanish Conditional tenses are also used in the main clause of a conditional sentence; in which case ‘if’ is substituted for ‘si’ at the beginning.

Example:

  • If I could go back in time, I would take the same path to meet you. -> Si pudiera regresar en el tiempo, volvería a tomar el mismo camino para encontrarme contigo.

Notice how the first part of the sentence is conjugated in the Imperfect Subjunctive tense: ‘pudiera’, whilst the second part in the Simple Conditional tense.

Now, let’s look at examples of conditional sentences using the Conditional Perfect tense.

Example:

  • Si el delantero hubiera metido gol, habríamos ganado el partido de fútbol. -> If the striker had scored a gol, we would have won the football match.
  • Si Jorge hubiera estudiado más, habría pasado el examen. ->If Jorge had studied harder, he would have passed the exam.
  • Si hubiera llegado a tiempo al aeropuerto, el avión no me habría dejado. -> If I had arrived on time to the airport, the plane would have not left me.

Notice how the first clause too shows the verb ‘haber’ conjugated in the Imperfect Subjunctive tense (hubiera) and the second clause in Conditional Perefect (habría). Remember to always apply the rule of concordance so the verbs match the right person.

For the Imperfect Subjunctive clause the formula looks like this:

HUBIERA + PAST PARTICIPLE

You will see from the chart below that there are two correct options for the conjugation of ‘haber’ in the Spanish Imperfect Subjunctive tense. The first one is more common and the second is considered more educated so it can be found in printed news media and literature.

PRONOUN HABER (TO BE) The two forms are correct
Yo Hubiera Hubiese
Tú/vos Hubieras Hubieses
Usted Hubiera Hubiese
Él/ella Hubiera Hubiese
Nosotros/nosotras Hubiéramos Hubiésemos
Vosotros/vosotras Hubierais Hubieseis
Ustedes Hubieran Hubiesen
Ellos/ellas Hubieran Hubiesen

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