How to use the conditional simple tense in Spanish?

Image of people wearing traditional South-American clothes.
The conditional mood is used to make assumptions about the past and to hypothesize about the present and the future. This mood has two tenses: present (aka simple) and past. The conditional simple in Spanish differs from English because in English we need two words to make hypotheses: would + verb, while in Spanish you only need one:
Si ganas la lotería, ¿qué harías?
If you won the lottery, what would you do
Compraría una casa con piscina.
I would buy a house with a pool.
Would you like to know more about the conditional simple? Keep reading!

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?


to study
would study

to eat
would eat

to live
would live
*vosotros/vosotras-íais estudiaríaiscomeríaisviviríais

*vosotros/vosotras is only used in Spain

All forms have an accent. The accent mark always goes on the “i” right after the infinitive ending:
I/he/she would study
we would eat
they would live

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!

Irregular verbs in the conditional tense are formed with the same endings as above, but the first part (aka the stem) is irregular.
to put → I would put
to want → I would want

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.

Creí que tendría dinero.
I thought I would have money.
We also use this in reported speech:
Juan me dijo que iría a trabajar el martes.
Juan told me he would go to work on Tuesday.

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?

The conditional is often used in hypothetical sentences that express situations contrary to present or past facts. These types of sentences contain two parts: a si (if) clause that expresses the condition and a main clause that expresses the result or consequence.
           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!

Make wishes

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?

TIP In many Latin American countries, using the conditional is the appropriate way to request things at a restaurant or store, or to address strangers. For example:
¿Me podría dar la hora?
Could you tell me the time?

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. 

Opinion → -¿Sí? no debería hacer eso.
He shouldn’t do that.
We can use modal verbs (should, would, could) in the conditional simple to give or ask for advice and make suggestions, especially with the verbs poder (can), deber (should), and tener que (have to):
Suggestion→ Yo podría ir a recogerte al aeropuerto.
I could pick you up from the airport.
Advice → Deberías hacer más ejercicio.
You should exercise more. 

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!

Are you interested in learning more about Spanish Grammar? Check out our Spanish Grammar Homepage.
Unpacking the grammar

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

      1. If you come early, (dependent clause)
      2. we can go to the theater.  (main clause).
Meet The Author:
Author-De Nicolas Foto
Irati de Nicolás Saiz
Irati is a linguist and an experienced University Spanish teacher with a PhD in Hispanic Linguistics.

To embark on your next language adventure, join the Mango fam!

Extra Resources:

Conditional simple table


Conditional simple activity


Conditional simple activity

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