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Spanish Conditional Tense - el Condicional (Conjugation and Usage)

Written by tutor Vanessa K.

The conditional is one of the simplest, easiest Spanish verb forms. :) There is only one set of endings and most verbs - even those which are irregular in the present tense - use their infinitive as the root of the conjugation.

How do we form the conditional?

To form the conditional of -AR, -ER, and -IR verbs, add the following endings to the infinitive:

  Singular Plural
1st person      yo     -ía           nosotros     -íamos
2nd person      tú     -ías           vosotros     -íais
3rd person      él
ella     -ía          
Ud.
ellos
ellas     -ían
Uds.

He would sing – El cantaría

I would eat – Yo comería

We would write – Nosotros escribiríamos

Irregular verbs in the conditional tense:

Some verbs have irregular conditional stems, but they still add the same endings as regular verbs.

Verb      Conditional stem      Similar verbs
poner pondr- -d- in place of the –e- or –i-: salir, tener, valer, venir
haber habr- -lose the infinitive vowel –e-: caber, poder, querer, saber
hacer har-  
oír oir- Lose the accent: reir, sonreir
decir dir-  

Usage

We use the conditional tense for actions that are not guaranteed to occur, in hypotheses, or statements about what would happen, that’s why it is translated as would/could in English.

Uses:

1. Talking about expectations: Past tense + conditional.
Often with common expressions such as pensar que, creer que, prometer que...

Examples: Marta dijo que vendría - Marta said she would come.
Yo pensaba que viajaríamos hoy - I thought we would travel today.

2. Probability in the past

Examples: Serían las diez - It was probably ten o'clock.
El vendría a eso de las 2 de la mañana – He would come at about two in the morning.

3. Polite requests, suggestions or refusals

Examples: ¿Podría ayudarme?- Could you help me?
Querríamos dos refrescos por favor - We would like two drinks please.
Lo siento pero no le aceptaría la invitación – I am sorry but I couldn’t accept the invitation

4. Si (if, then) clauses- conditional is also used in the second type of if clauses to express unlikely situations: (imperfect subjunctive + conditional)

Example: Si fueras con nosotros, podrías visitar a tu abuela - If you went with us, you could visit your grandmother.

Conditional Tense Quiz

Complete each sentence with the correct conditional form of the verb in parentheses

(No has comido en todo el día) Tú _____________ hambre. (tener)

The correct answer is tendrías.

{tendrías|tendrias}
(El camarero viene a anotar lo que quieres comer). Yo ________ el plato del día, por favor. (querer)

The correct answer is querría.

{querría|querria}
Creía que ________________ al cine, no al teatro. (ir)

The correct answer is iríamos.

{iríamos|iriamos}
(Hablándole a un niño) Si te comieras toda la comida, te _____________ postre. (dar)

The correct answer is daría.

{daría|daria}
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