While the conditional tense does have some links to the future tense, it is not actually bound to a particular time period (meaning past, present or future). The conditional tense, just as its name indicates, is utilized to talk about conditional or hypothetical events. This may sound a bit confusing, but don't worry- we'll try to clear it up a bit.
Forming the Spanish Conditional Tense
Like the future tense, the conditional tense is extremely easy to conjugate in that all three verb forms (-ar, -er and -ir) use the same endings; these endings are added on to the end of the infinitive
|Conditional tense endings||-ar verbs|
AMAR (to love)
VENDER (to sell)
DORMIR (to sleep)
I would love
I would sell
you would sell
you would sleep
he/she would love
he/she would sell
he/she would sleep
we would love
we would sell
we would sleep
you all would love
you all would sell
you all would sleep
they would love
they would sell
they would sleep
When to Use the Spanish Conditional Tense
The conditional has several uses. Here we'll outline a few of the basics. To begin, whenever we use the word "would" in English- for example, "She would love to go to the party" - , it's a sign to employ the conditional tense in Spanish.
- Le encantaría ir a la fiesta. (She would love to go to the party.)
Secondly, the conditional is also used to describe an action that depends on a condition. For example:
- Si tuviera más dinero, iría de compras. (If I had more money, I would go shopping.)
- The condition for going shopping is having more money.
- Compraría un perro si tuviera más espacio. (She would buy a dog if she had more space.)
- The condition for buying a dog is having more space.
- Te llamaría si pudiera ir a la fiesta. (I would call you if I were able to go to the party.)
- The condition for calling is being able to go to the party.
Another important use of the conditional is to make polite requests or desires known. For example, saying "I want to leave" is a bit harsher than saying "I would like to leave."
- Me gustaría hablar con el jefe. (I would like to speak to the boss)
- By using the conditional "would like" instead of the regular "want", you are more politely requesting to speak to the boss.)
To express speculation about the past.
- Después de conducir todo el día, estarían cansados. (After driving all day, they must have been tired.)
- ¿Por qué no fue? Estaría en el trabajo. (Why didn't she go? She was probably at work.)
Irregular Verbs in the Spanish Conditional Tense
Irregular verbs are simply verbs which don't quite follow the same rules as regular verbs. In the case of the conditional tense, regular verbs conjugate into the conditional tense by taking the infinitive and adding the endings. With irregular verbs, those same endings are added on to a slightly altered root. Below you'll find a few of the most commonly used irregular verbs in the conditional tense:
- caber (to fit): cabría, cabrías, cabría, cabríamos, cabríais, cabrían
- decir (to say): diría, dirías...
- poder (to be able): podría, podrías...
- poner (to put): pondría, pondrías...
- querer (to want): querría, querrías...
- saber (to know): sabría, sabrías...
- salir (to go out): saldría, saldrías...
- tener (to have): tendría, tendrías...
- venir (to come): vendría, vendrías...
Keep in mind that irregular verbs in the conditional tense are generally also irregular in the future tense.