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Conditional

Conditional tense

Formation

As with the future tense, the forms of the conditional tense in Spanish hold few surprises. The endings are all regular, and there are only a few verbs that have irregular stems in the conditional. The endings (-ía, -ías, -ía, -íamos, -íaias, -ían) are added to the infinitive form of the verb or, in the case of the few irregular verbs, to the future stem.

Examples:

-ar verbs

  • hablaría
  • hablarías
  • hablaría
  • hablaríamos
  • hablaríais
  • hablarían

-er verbs

  • comería
  • comerías
  • comería
  • comeríamos
  • comeríais
  • comerían

-ir verbs

  • viviría
  • vivirías
  • viviría
  • viviríamos
  • viviríais
  • vivirían

While most conditional tense occurrences are regular, there are a few irregular conditional and future stems, and they should be committed to memory. Notice how regular most of them are in their irregularity. They are:

Verb / Irregular stem / Forms

  • decir / dir- / diría, dirías, diría, etc.
  • haber / habr- / habría, habrías, habría, etc.
  • hacer / har- / haría, harías, haría, etc.
  • poder / podr- / podría, podrías, podría, etc.
  • poner / pondr- / pondría, pondrías, pondría, etc.
  • querer / querr- / querría, querrías, querría, etc.
  • saber / sabr- / sabría, sabrías, sabría, etc.
  • salir / saldr- / saldría, saldrías, saldría, etc.
  • tener / tendr- / tendría, tendrías, tendría, etc.
  • venir / vendr- / vendría, vendrías, vendría, etc.

Use

Primary use of the conditional tense
Conditional vs. imperfect tense
Contrary-to-fact clause
The conditional of conjecture or probability

Primary use of the conditional tense

In its most basic sense, the conditional tense is a cousin to the future tense, not only in its forms but also in its meaning. Instead of translating the English will, however, it translates the words would or sometimes should. For example:

  • Comería arroz pero no hay más. (I would eat rice, but there is none left.)
  • Saldríamos para México mañana pero nos falta dinero. (We would leave for Mexico tomorrow, but we don't have the money.)
  • Nos dijo que se pondría una corbata. (He told us that he would wear a tie.)

Conditional vs. imperfect tense

If a speaker says "would" in English to mean "used to," the conditional tense is not used. Instead, the imperfect indicative is used. For instance, When I was ten years old I would (used to) play after school, They would (used to) go to Europe on vacation.

  • Iba a la playa todos los veranos. (I would go to the beach each summer.)
  • Comíamos pescado los viernes. (We would eat fish on Fridays.)

Contrary-to-fact clause

The conditional and conditional perfect are used in conjunction the imperfect subjunctive and the pluperfect subjunctive to express conditionality with respect to the main clause.

  • Yo los acompañaría si tuviera tiempo. (I would go with them if I had time.)
  • Habríamos hecho la tarea de otro modo si hubiéramos sabido las reglas. (We would have done the work differently if we had known the rules.)

The conditional of conjecture or probability

The conditional and conditional perfect tenses are frequently used to express conjecture or probability in the past or past perfect.

  • ¿Qué hora sería? (What time do you think it was?)
  • Serían las cinco. (It was probably five o'clock.)
  • ¿Habrían terminado? (Do you suppose they had finished?)

See also

Conditional perfect
"If" clauses
Imperfect indicative
Imperfect subjunctive
Future tense
Future perfect tense
Verbs

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