The Conditional Simple in Spanish
The conditional simple in Spanish (also imperfect conditional) is a verb tense of indicative with which we can express hypothetical situations, advices, formal requests or wishes. It is closely related to the future and, in fact, its construction is very similar. In this article you can review everything you need to know about the future simple of indicative in Spanish.
As its name indicates, it refers to conditioned actions, which depend on others to come true (conditional), which are not finished (imperfect) and which are expressed with a single verb form (simple).
About its Origin and Evolution
Before talking about how this verb tense is formed, let’s know something about its origin. The conditional simple in Spanish has no equivalent in classical Latin. Actually, the language of the Caesars used other tenses (usually the subjunctive ones) to express the uses that we give to the conditional. In late Latin, the concept of conditional is introduced through a verbal periphrasis. In this article you can remember what verbal periphrases are.
This verbal periphrasis was formed by the infinitive of the main verb and the imperfect of indicative of the verb haber. This is how it evolved:
Cantare habebam > cantar había > cantar hía > cantaría
How is the Conditional Simple in Spanish Formed?
The conditional simple in Spanish is quite irregular. However, the good news is that if you already know the future simple indicative, you will have no problem conjugating this verb tense. As we saw before, the base of the conditional is the infinitive of the main verb. Then, we must add the endings, which are constant in all conjugations (-ar, -er, -ir). Let’s start with regular verbs.
Conjugation of regular verbs
The conjugation of regular verbs in the conditional simple in Spanish is as easy to learn as in the future simple. All conjugations share the same endings, and the stem is limited to using the infinitive.
Me gustaría tener un Ferrari; mis amigos estarían envidiosos.
Other regular verbs are: trabajar, terminar, beber, correr, escribir, abrir…
Conjugation of Irregular Verbs
The conditional simple is very irregular, as is the future tense. However, if we already know the changes that occur in the stem in the future imperfect, we will not have to learn anything new, because the endings remain regular.
Verbs with Change from Vowel (e, i) to Consonant (d)
In this first group of irregular verbs, the stem undergoes a change in the final syllable of the infinitive. The vowels –e- / -i- disappear and are replaced by a -d-:
Tener > tenería > ten e ría > ten d ría > tendría
Other irregular verbs in this group are:
- Poner = pondría
- Valer = valdría
- Salir = saldría
Quizás ayer mis amigos saldrían por la noche; yo, en su lugar, pondría más orden en su vida.
Verbs with Vowel Suppression
These verbs, like the previous group, lose the vowel of the infinitive. However, it is not replaced by any consonant:
Poder > podería > pod e ría > pod ría > podría
Other irregular verbs of this type are:
- Querer = querría
- Saber = sabría
- Haber= habría
- Caber= cabría
Here are some sentences with these verbs:
Cuando sea mayor, querría ser veterinario y en mi clínica, habría todo tipo de animales.
Verbs with Vowel and Consonant Loss
In this last group of irregulars in the conditional simple in Spanish, the verbs lose a consonant and a vowel from the stem:
Hacer > hacería > ha ce ría > ha ría > haría
Decir > deciría > d ec iría > d iría > diría
Here we can see an example:
How Do You Use the Conditional Simple in Spanish?
In this article we are going to explain the most common B1 level uses of this verb tense.
First of all, the conditional simple in Spanish can express courtesy, in the form of a request. In this case, we do not convey the meaning of hypothesis or improbability. We simply show more politeness, for formal situations or with unfamiliar people.
¿Podría indicarme cómo llegar al centro de la ciudad, por favor?
Querría una copa de vino, por favor.
Likewise, with the conditional we can express advice. What we do is to put ourselves in the place of our interlocutor and use the first person. We usually reinforce these sentences with expressions like si fuera tú, yo, en tu lugar…
Yo, en tu lugar, no comería tantas grasas y azúcar. Si fuera tú, haría más deporte.
Finally, we can also use the conditional with a meaning of modesty. With its use, we attenuate the strength of our expression. It is very normal when we want to give opinions.
Yo diría que su propuesta no es muy acertada.
In conclusion, the conditional simple in Spanish is a tense that expresses hypothesis and courtesy. If you want to go deeper into its uses and put them into practice, don’t hesitate to try our Spanish classes for different levels, where you can learn all the grammar with a communicative and conversational approach: at Spanishviaskype.com nos gustaría ayudarte.