The Conditional tense in Spanish (“Condicional”) is a used to talk about hypothetical situations. Also, sometimes, to express a request or a wish in a polite way. We will study its conjugation first, and then talk about its uses.
Conjugation – Regular Verbs
The conjugation in Conditional is pretty easy, for two reasons:
1. It doesn’t matter if the verb ends in “-ar”, “-er”, “-ir”. The conjugation is the same regardless.
2. We don’t even need to “cut” the verb. Each person will be built using the whole infinitive + the proper suffix for each person.
Here are the suffixes:
For example, here are the conjugations for “amar”, “ser” and “sentir”. Notice that we use the whole infinitive + the proper suffix for each person. Very easy!
Conjugation – Irregular Verbs
For the irregular verbs, the suffixes are the same as for the regulars, it’s the stem that has some change.
For most verbs it changes very slightly and it “sounds right”, you will learn them easily!
Here is a list of the most important irregulars:
The Relationship between the Conditional tense and the Simple Future tense
While you study the Conditional conjugation, we invite you to consider the relationship between this tense and the Simple Future tense (Click here to read about the Simple Future tense). It is useful to see them as a “family” because their conjugation is extremely similar:
For both Conditional and Future, the regular verbs are conjugating adding a suffix to the infinitive.
If a verb is irregular in Conditional, it is also irregular in Future, and the stem changes are exactly the same (see table above).
Uses of the Conditional Tense
Use 1: Expressing Hypothesis (English “would, should, could…”)
We use the Conditional tense in sentences where we are expressing hypothesis. More precisely, the kind of hypothesis where we express what WOULD occur, if something else happened (the condition).
We have written the word WOULD in capital letters because that is a good trick for English speakers. Almost everytime we say “would” in English, that will translate to Spanish conjugating in Conditional the verb that follows “would”.
For instance, look at this sentence in English:
If Peter comes, we will play with him.
That is a sentence that expresses a hypothesis, but we don’t have the word “would” in English. In that case, we won’t use the Conditional.
However, in this other sentence…
If Peter came, we WOULD PLAY with him.
Si Pedro viniera, JUGARÍAMOS con él.
There it is! Now, “would play” will translate as “jugaríamos”, Conditional for the verb “jugar”.
If you studied harder, you would pass the exam.
Si estudiases más, aprobarías el examen.
I would like to have a nice house.
Me gustaría tener una bonita casa.
I would buy this jacket if i had more money.
Compraría esta chaqueta si tuviera más dinero.
The English words “could” and “should” also tend to translate to Conditional tense in Spanish.
If I had my tools, I could fix the radio
Si tuviera mis herramientas, podría arreglar la radio.
You should see this.
Deberías ver esto.
Use 2: A request or a wish in a polite way.
Sometimes we use the conditional tense to express a request or wish in a polite way. Again, in English we use the words “would, could, should” for this too, so it all makes sense.
Could you bring me the menu, please?
Podría traerme la carta, por favor
De primer plato, querría una sopa de tomate.
For the first course, I would like a tomato soup.
I would like to see that watch, please.
Me gustaría ver ese reloj, por favor.
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