Conditional

Conditional

Conditional forms from the Spanish in Texas Corpus

The conditional (condicional) is used to refer to hypothetical events. It occurs in polite requests and most frequently with si (if) clauses. It is most often translated as would in English.

Formation

The conditional is conjugated by taking the infinitive and adding the appropriate endings (these are also the -er and -ir verbs imperfect endings)as in the following table:

hablar  to speak
yo hablaría nosotros/as hablaríamos
tú hablarías  
él/ella/usted hablaría
ellos/as/ustedes hablarían
Pero, eso sería un sueño.
But, that would be a dream.

Stem Changers

Verbs with irregular future stems use the same irregular stems in the conditional. Here is a list of the most common irregular stems:

  • Tener and its compounds (mantener, obtener, etc.): tendría, tendrías, tendría, mantendríamos, obtendrían, etc.
  • Haber: habría
  • Venir: vendría, vendrías, vendría, etc.
  • Decir: diría, dirías, diría, etc.
  • Hacer: haría, harías, haría, etc.
  • Poner: pondría, pondrías, pondría, etc.
  • Salir: saldría, saldrías, saldría, etc.
  • Poder: podría, podrías, podría, etc.
  • Querer: querría, querrías, querría, etc.
  • Saber: sabría, sabrías, sabría, etc.
Tendría que decir es un acento más pegado al mexicano… por la frontera.
I would have to say it is an accent that is more similar to the Mexican one… because of the border.

Uses

Wishes or Requests

The conditional expresses potentiality. It is used to express a wish or a suggestion, to make a request, or to accept or extend invitations. It is less direct and more polite than the imperative. The verbs podría, querría, and debería are often found in the conditional to diminish the strength of a command. In most cases, the conditional is translated as meaning would in English. However, podría means I could, debería means I should and querría means I would like.

No me gustaría que me dejaras, me gustaría mejor que te casaras conmigo.
I wouldn’t like you to leave me, I would prefer you to marry me.

Hypothetical Action 

The conditional is used when making statements which are contrary to present facts. It expresses a hypothetical result which depends on (stated or implied) circumstances which do not exist. In order for the action expressed by the conditional to occur, something else must take place first. Note that the condition in the si or if clause, is always stated in the subjunctive (imperfect or pluperfect).

Si fuera lugar u objeto, yo diría que la televisión.
If it was a place or an object, I would say television.

For more details about hypothetical clauses see also the page about si clauses.

Reported Speech (Indirect Discourse)

In addition, the conditional is used to represent the future in relation to a narration in the past when reported speech is used to tell what someone said.

Laura me dijo que vendría.Laura told me that she would come.

For more details about reported speech see also the page about indirect speech.