Table of Contents
For review of grammar terms used in the post, make sure to check out the Unpacking the grammar section at the end!
How to form the conditional simple in Spanish?
In order to form the regular conditional simple, we need to attach the following endings to the infinitive forms of the verbs; for instance: estudiar → estudiaría. It doesn’t matter if the verb is an -ar, -er, or -ir verb, the endings are all the same! Easy, right?
|Pronoun||ENDINGS||-AR VERBS |
|-ER VERBS |
|-IR VERBS |
*vosotros/vosotras is only used in Spain
Remember that the Spanish accents tell you which part of the word is pronounced with more emphasis, so not only write the accent on the “í,” but also pronounce it with more gusto!
Do they look familiar? Irregular verbs in the conditional tense are the same irregular verbs in the future tense. If you want to know more on future verbs, check out our post on the Spanish future tense and don’t forget to take a look at this table for irregular verbs in the conditional!
How do you use the conditional simple in Spanish?
Now that we know how to form the conditional, let’s see how and when to use it. We use the conditional simple to make assumptions about the past, to hypothesize about the present and future, to express courtesy, and to give our opinion or suggestions.
Make assumptions about the past
We use the conditional tense when we want to make assumptions or speculate about an action/event in the past. Let’s explore these examples:
¿Te acuerdas de aquel día que llamaron a la puerta a las 3 de la mañana?
¿Quién sería? ¿Qué querría?
Do you remember that day that someone knocked on the door at 3 am?
Who would it be? What would he/she want?
The conditional is also used as the “future of the past.” That is, to talk about an event/action that would have happened after an action in the past.
We usually use it in a two part sentence: with a verb in the past in the main clause and the conditional in the subordinate clause.
In Spanish, we don’t use the conditional tense to express past habits like we do in English.
When I was a child I would eat paella every Sunday.
Cuando era niña, comía paella todos los domingos.
As observed, in Spanish, we use the imperfect to express habitual actions in the past. Take a look at this post on the Spanish imperfect to learn more on that!
Hypothesize the present or the future
We also use the conditional tense when we want to convey a hypothetical situation, that is, to talk about what someone would do (now or in the future) if they could do it.
–No encuentro mi cartera.
I can’t find my wallet.
– Yo en tu lugar, llamaría al restaurante por si la encontraron.
If I were you, I would call the restaurant to see if they found it.
Si te ofrecen un trabajo en Alaska, ¿irías?
If someone offers you a job in Alaska, would you go?
| Si clause Main clause|
Sime quedara atrapado en el ascensor, llamaría a los bomberos.
If I get stuck in the elevator, I would call the firefighters.
To learn more about Spanish si clauses check out this post!
We can also use the conditional to express things that we would like to see happen. These wishes are usually expressed with verbs like gustar (to like), encantar (to love), and ser (to be) + adjective.
Me gustaría visitar tu universidad.
I would like to visit your university.
Nos encantaría vivir en Australia por un año.
We would love to live in Australia for one year.
Sería fascinante explorar el Amazonas.
It would be fascinating to explore the Amazon.
If you want to know more on verbs like gustar, check out this post!
Express courtesy or kindness
We also use the conditional simple to express courtesy or kindness.
¿Me podrías indicar cómo llegar a este lugar?
Could you tell me how to get to this place?
¿Te importaría quedar el sábado en vez del viernes?
Would you mind if we meet on Saturday instead of on Friday?
Give opinions, advice, and make suggestions
Finally, we can also use the conditional to give our opinion about actions or behavior:
-Fíjate en Juan, dejó su trabajo y se fue a vivir a una granja.
Look at Juan, he quit his job and he went to live on a farm.
Notice that when you use poder and deber in the conditional simple, the English equivalents are “could” and “should,” respectively. If you want to learn more on Spanish modal verbs, check out this post!
Finally, don’t forget to take a look at these Spanish conjugation tables with modal verbs in the conditional.
The conditional simple tense in Spanish is very easy to form! We form it by attaching the appropriate ending to the infinitive. We also discussed the main uses of the conditional, use it to:
- make assumptions about the past;
- make hypotheses about the past or present;
- express courtesy or kindness;
- express wishes;
- give your opinion or advice and make suggestions.
Do you want to practice? Try out this exercise we created for you! Enjoy!
A mood is the form a verb takes to express various states: the indicative mood is for facts, the imperative mood is for commands, the subjunctive mood is for wishes and possibilities, and the conditional mood is for conditions and to express hypothetical ideas.
An infinitive is a verb in its basic form, for example “to run,” “to eat,” “to be.” In Spanish, infinitives have one of three endings: -ar, -er, -ir (cantar, comer, vivir).
Clause: a clause is a group of words that make up a sentence. It contains a subject and a predicate, which can be independent (can stand alone) or dependent (needs another clause to make sense).
If you come early, we can go to the theater.
This sentence has TWO CLAUSES:
- If you come early, (dependent clause)
- we can go to the theater. (main clause).