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Published on: Grammar

Conditional Tense: Spanish Grammar Made Easy

Very straightforward to conjugate, the Spanish conditional tense is used to talk about hypothetical situations, probabilities, and to make polite requests.

The conditional tense in Spanish is no different from other languages (in use). As its name spoils, the conditional tense is mostly about conditions; initial situations that are linked to others so they can resolve.

The Spanish conditional tense sure is used to express distinct events in time but they are not as complicated to conjugate as you may believe. How to form the Spanish conditional tense is what we are going to show you in this article.

Plus, we are providing you with lots of examples of the Spanish conditional tense, making sure you’ll get this right.

Keep this in mind, the Spanish conditional tense is formed very much in the same way as the simple future tense.

Want to know more about Spanish Future Tense? Check this article here.

The Conditional Tense in Spanish has the same future tense root.

You would like to take a look at your notes on the future tense to start with this conditional tense. If you don’t have any, take a deep breath and pay attention to the following 2 steps:

  1. Get the infinitive form of almost any verb. Verbs in the conditional are the same so, ar, er, and ir verbs will cause you no harm.
  2. Add the appropriate endings, depending on the person you are referring to.

Spanish conditional tense example

Take a look at the endings next to the infinitives in the table below and notice that we only have one conjugation in English for the conditional verb.

The first verb has some endings attached as the original written version would be like.

Pronouns Hablar (speak)
would speak
Comer (eat)
would eat
Abrir (open)
would open
Yo hablar ía comer ía abrir ía
hablar ías comer ías abrir ías
Él/Ella/Usted hablaría comer ía abrir ía
Nosotros hablar íamos comer íamos abrir íamos
Ustedes hablar ían comer ían abrir ían
Vosotros hablaríais comer íais abrir íais
Ellos/Ellas hablarían comer ían abrir ían

Remember that vosotros is used in Spain and ustedes in Latin America.

Some other examples:

  • ¿Qué ejemplo me darías? – What example would you give me?
  • El niño dijo que comería temprano. – The kid said he would eat early.
  • Compraría ese vestido rojo, ¡es perfecto! – I would buy that red dress, it’s perfect!
  • ¿Te gustaría venir a las 8 pm? – Would you like to come at 8 pm?
  • ¡Me encantaría conocerte! – I would love to meet you!

Conditional Tense in Spanish with Reflexive Verbs

The conditional is used with reflexive verbs as well, to express actions performed on the same subject/object. Just as any other verb, form the conditional tense with the infinitive and the endings.

The only extra word, in this case, would be the reflexive pronoun (me, te ,se , nos ,os, se). They always go before the verb.

Example:

  • Yo me mudaría a una casa más grande. – I would move to a bigger house.
  • Me comería la torta entera si fuera hecha de chocolate. – I would eat the whole cake if it were made of chocolate.
  • Él se expresaría mejor sobre su condición con un ejemplo. – He would express in a better way about his condition with an example.
  • Nosotros nos escaparíamos usando un artefacto que venga del futuro. – We would escape by using a device coming from the future.
  • Vosotros os marcharíais como si nada pasó. – You would leave as if nothing happened.
  • Ellos se convertirían en ejemplos perfectos de la condición humana. –  They would become perfect examples of the human condition.

All you need to know about the Spanish Reflexive Verbs in this article here.

Conditional tense in Spanish: irregular verbs

There are only 12 irregular verbs for the conditional tense in Spanish. The same verbs that are used for conditional tense are also used for simple future tense. The endings have the same form and their use doesn’t change.

Remember the form of the infinitive like they are shown next.

Verb forms with “d” in the root

Such as salir, poner, tener, venir, valer.

Pronouns Salir
(To go out)
Poner
(To put)
Tener
(To have)
Venir
(To come)
Valer
(To cost /
To be worth)
Yo saldr ía pondr ía tendr ía vendr ía valdr ía
saldr ías pondr ías tendr ías vendr ías valdr ías

Él/Ella/

Usted

saldr ía pond ría tendr ía vendr ía valdr ía
Nosotros saldr íamos pondr íamos tendr íamos vendr íamos vendr íamos
Vosotros saldr íais pondr íais tendr íais vendr íais valdr íais

Ellos/Ellas/

Ustedes

saldr ían pondr ían tendr ían vendr ían valdr ían

Examples:

  • Yo saldría contigo todos los días: I would go out with you every day.
  • tendrías que salir usando tu carro: You’d have to go out by using your car.
  • Ella pondría ejemplos perfectos del futuro: She would go set perfect examples about the future.
  • Nosotros vendríamos todo el tiempo: We would come all the time.
  • Ellos valdrían mucho por su condición: They would be worth it a lot because of their condition.

Verbs that lose one vowel

Such as Caber, Haber, Poder, Saber.

Pronouns Caber (To fit) Haber (To have) Spanish auxiliary verb Poder
(To be able to)
Saber
(To know)
Yo cabr ía habr ía podr ía sabr ía
cabr ías habr ías podr ías sabr ías
Él/Ella/Usted cabr ía habr ía podr ía sabr ía
Nosotros cabr íamos habr íamos podr íamos sabr íamos
Vosotros cabr íais habr íais podr íais sabr íais

Ellos/Ellas/

Ustedes

cabr ían habr ían podr ían sabr ían

Examples:

  • Yo podría comer con él todo el día: I could eat with him all day.
  • cabrías pero estás tenso. – You would fit but you’re tense.
  • Él sabría qué hacer. – He would know what to do.
  • Nosotros habríamos sido como tú. – We could have been like you.
  • Ella querría otro helado, por favor. – She would like another ice cream, please.

Verbs in the conditional tense with an irregular root

Something else to take into account is the change in the infinitive for this form.

Pronoun Decir (to say / to tell): dir Hacer (do-make): har
Yo dir ía
I would say/tell
har ía
I would do/make

dir ías

you would say/tell

har ías

you would do/make

Él/Ella/Usted

dir ía

he/she would say/tell

har ía

he/she would do/make

Nosotros

dir íamos

we would say/tell

har íamos

we would do/make

Vosotros

dir íais

you would say/tell

har íais

you would do/make

Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes

dir ían

they would say/tell

har ían

they would do/make

Using the conditional tense in Spanish

Now, let us review the uses of the Spanish conditional tense one by one.

First, and, up to this point, you should know how to conjugate the conditional simple in Spanish and that it’s the equivalent of would + an infinitive. However, other words in English also translate into a conditional in Spanish.

Depending on the intention of the speaker, the conditional could be translated to “could”, “should have” or “probably”.

Here are some of the most common scenarios in which you’d be using the conditional in Spanish:

Conditional tense: wishes

Spanish: English:
Me gustaría ver el océano I would like to see the ocean.
Nos encantaría viajar pronto We would love to travel soon.

Conditional tense: suggestions

Spanish: English:
Deberíamos poder usar nuestra piscina. We should be able to use our swimming pool.
Deberías usar un abrigo. You should wear a coat.
Yo me mudaría a una casa más grande I would move to a bigger house

Conditional tense: requests

Spanish: English:
¿Podría cerrar la puerta? Could you close the door?
¿Les importaría si fumo? Would you mind if I smoke?

Conditional tense: excuses

Spanish: English:
Iría a tu casa pero estoy muy cansado I would go to your house but I’m too tired.
Podríamos dejar de jugar pero no hay mucho qué hacer We could stop playing but there isn’t much to do.

Conditional tense: hypothetical situations

Another way to use the conditional tense in Spanish is to talk about situations that are not real at the moment. For these situations, we’re going to be using an “if clause”.

Very simply, an “if clause” is a cropped sentence that implies a condition.

Spanish: English:
Si fuera rico, visitaría muchos lugares. If I were rich, I would visit many places.
Si tuviera más tiempo, leería más libros If I had more time, I would read more books.

In the Spanish conditional tense, it’s possible to invert the sentence if you would like to express your ideas differently.

Spanish: English:
Leería más libros si tuviera más tiempo I would read more books if I had more time.

Notice that the first verb we use here is nothing like the rest in this article. In each example, the imperfect subjunctive is present.

The Spanish Conditional Compound Tense

The conjugation on this one is very simple as it’s a combination of verbs we already know. Remember that compound tenses use auxiliary verbs.

In this case, you know haber is the auxiliary verb in Spanish. For the conditional compound, it will be in the simple conditional tense.

Pronoun Haber (Simple Conditional To have English
Yo habría I would have
habrías You would have
Usted habría You would have
Él/Ella habría He/she would have
Nosotros habríamos We would have
Ustedes habrían You would have
Vosotros habríais You would have
Ellos/Ellas habrían They would have

The second component is the past participle which is going to be used with every personal pronoun without any changes given that we are already conjugating haber.

Past participle in Spanish (regular verbs)

There are three different types of regular verbs in Spanish that we group according to their endings.

-Ar                                           -Er -Ir
Bailar / To dance Oler / To smell Permitir / To allow
Lanzar / To throw Coser / To sew Perseguir / To chase
Hablar / To hablado Cocer / To cook Distribuir / To distribute

Let’s transform those into past participles:

  • For verbs that end in -ar, we change the ending for -ado.
  • For the verbs with -er and -ir endings, we change the endings for -ido.
-Ar -Er -Ir
Bailado / danced Olido / smelled Permitido / allowed
Lanzado / thrown Cosido / sewn Perseguido / chased
Hablado / talked Cocido / cooked Distribuido / distributed

Past participle in Spanish (irregular verbs)

The conjugation was pretty straightforward up to this point and now there’s a set of irregular verbs we need to use!

But, there’s nothing to worry about. Many of these irregular verbs are very common, meaning Spanish speakers use them a lot and you’ll be listening to them quite often.

Verb Past Participle English
Abrir abierto opened
Cubrir cubierto covered
Devolver devuelto returned
Escribir escrito written
Hacer hecho done / made
Resolver resuelto resolved
Satisfacer satisfecho satisfied
Decir dicho said
Descubrir descubierto discovered
Volver vuelto returned
Imponer impuesto imposed
Morir muerto died
Poner puesto put
Romper roto broken
Ver visto seen

Are there any other irregular verbs? Of course! However, once you’re familiarized with the ones on the previous list, you’d have learned many more.

How does it work? Easy! Verbs finishing in poner (already a verb), will have the same conjugation at the end. That is:

Componer, imponer, suponer, oponer, reponer, exponer, proponer and so on.

Compuesto, Impuesto, supuesto, opuesto, repuesto, expuesto, propuesto and so on.

And let’s not forget about the exceptions. There are three verbs in Spanish with two possible participles (regular and irregular).

Verb Irregular Participle Regular Participle English
Freír frito freído fried
Imprimir impreso imprimido printed
Proveer provisto proveído provided

Depending on the region, people will use one or the other. To be safe, use the irregular on every occasion.

Using the Conditional Compound

The Spanish Conditional Compound talks about an action that was supposed to happen in the past yet another action got in the way. It’s basically, giving excuses about something in the past.

Example:

  • Habría llamado a tu casa pero me robaron el teléfono. – I would have called to your house but they stole my phone.
  • Habríamos hecho algo pero no tuvimos oportunidad. – We would have done something but we didn’t have the chance.
  • Habrías podido llegar temprano pero te levantaste muy tarde. – You would have been able to arrive early but you got up too late.

Using What You’ve Learned

The Spanish conditional tense is perfect for elaborating excuses and we now have an example for every possible situation. Like any other tense, the regular verbs are the ones you’ll use the most.

The other good thing is that the conditional is easy to conjugate and it doesn’t have too many weird-looking irregular verbs, except for poder (to be able to). Besides these kinds of irregular verbs, you should have everything you need to start using the conditional tense like a pro!

As always, we’ll see you on the next one. If you need any one-on-one support, don’t hesitate to try a free private class or sign up for a 7-day free trial of our group classes.

¡Buena suerte!

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