12.7 The Conditional Tense

The conditional tense of regular verbs is formed with the infinitive as the stem and uses the same endings as does the imperfect tense of –er and –ir verbs.

ir

Person Singular Plural
1st iría I would go iríamos we would go
2nd irías you (fam.) would go iríais you (fam. pl.) would go
3rd iría he/she/ you would (form.) go irían they/you (form. pl. in Sp.) [fam. pl. in L.A.] would go

Be careful to look for the infinitive + the endings, to distinguish the conditional tense from the imperfect tense of –er and –ir verbs:

comíamos we were eating (used to eat, ate )
comeríamos we would eat

The same verbs that have an irregular stem in the future tense have the same irregular stem in the conditional tense:

decir diría, dirías, diría, diríamos, diríais, dirían
haber habría, habrías, habría, etc.
hacer haría, harías, haría, etc.
poder podría, podrías, podría, etc.
poner pondría, pondrías, pondría, etc.
querer querría, querrías, querría, etc.
saber sabría, sabrías, sabría, etc.
salir saldría, saldrías, saldría, etc.
tener tendría, tendrías, tendría, etc.
valer valdría, valdrías, valdría, etc.
venir vendría, vendrías, vendría, etc.
caber (to fit) cabría, cabrías, cabría, etc.

The conditional tense is used and translated in Spanish as it is in English:

Me dijo que vendría a las ocho. She told me she would come at eight o’clock.
¿Harías eso jamás? Would you ever do that?

 Building on what you know: similarities between future and conditional tenses

The conditional and future tenses share much in common:

  1. Both use the infinitive as the stem (unlike all other verb tenses studied so far).
  2. In both tenses, the same verbs have irregular stems.
  3. Their use is analogous. The conditional tense expresses what would happen in the future from a past point in time (Ayer me dijo que estaría aquí [“Yesterday he told me he would be here”) versus the future tense, from a present point in time Hoy me dice que estará aquí[“Today he tells me that he will be here.”]).

¡Ojo! Some verbs have very similar forms in the conditional and imperfect tenses. Pay close attention to quería (imperfect) and querría (conditional). Two verbs similar in form that are easily confused are hacer and haber. Be careful to distinguish between haría (I/he/she/you would do) and habría (there would be).

Now that all of the simple (one-word) indicative tenses have been studied, for purposes of comparison, see the following chart:

Llegar (To arrive) Translation
present llego I arrive/am arriving/ do arrive/ (will arrive)
imperfect llegaba I arrived/ was arriving/ used to arrive
preterite llegué I arrived
future llegaré I will arrive
conditional llegaría I would arrive
present participle llegando arriving
past participle llegado arrived

Vocabulario básico

Verbos:

apreciar – to appreciate, to esteem, to hold in esteem
compartir – to share
despreciar – to scorn, to look down on, to disdain, to deprecate
recoger – to pick up, to gather

Sustantivos:

el antepasado – ancestor
el/la ciudadano/-a – citizen
el crisol – melting pot
el desprecio – scorn, disdain

Adjetivo:

siguiente – following

Expresión:

yo, de usted (él, ella, etc.)* – if l were you (he, she, etc.)

*This expression usually takes the place of the imperfect subjunctive (see section 13.4) or, occasionally, the past perfect subjunctive (see section 15.1), in which case it means “If I had been you (he, she, etc.)”.

Last revised on May 31, 2022.