The Conditional Tense
The Conditional Spanish tense is another tense well worth becoming familiar with. It is not a very difficult tense either. And it is easy to know when to use the conditional tense, unlike some of the others. This is true because the conditional tense follows English closely when we want to use the word 'would' plus a verb. When we use the word 'would' in English we are expressing future uncertainty, with sometimes another condition that needs to be met. Sound familiar? Kind of sounds like a subjunctive tense doesn't it. The conditional is not a subjunctive tense, but sometimes it can call for a subjunctive verb to be used within the sentence. We will save those situations for another article.
Take a look at these English sentences that would be translated into the Spanish conditional tense.
Where would you go now that you have money?
I would eat steak, but I don't eat red meat.
I'm not going to give her money because she would spend it.
This is the basic idea of the conditional tense. Notice that the conditions met are facts. You have money, I don't eat red meat, she would spend the money. These types of statements will use the conditional tense and any other simple tense called for.
The other nice thing about the conditional tense is it is easy to conjugate the verbs. Like the future tense, you just add the appropriate ending to infinitive verb. Those endings are:
ía - I, you, he, she, it, would.
ías - you would, informal.
ían - they would.
íamos - we would.
There are some verbs in the conditional tense that are irregular. We will look at some of the commonly used ones too.
Here are the above examples conjugated in the conditional:
Where would you go, now that you have money? -¿Dónde iría(s) ya que tiene(s) dinero?
I would eat steak but I don't eat red meat. - Comería bistec, pero no como carne roja.
I'm not going to give her money because she would spend it. - No voy a dar(le) dinero a ella, porqúe lo gastaría.
Notice in the last example, the indirect object pronoun (le) indicating to where the money would not go, the personal a, 'a' ella, and the direct object pronoun, 'lo' substituting for the word money.
And here are a few more.
Who would read this? - ¿Quién leería esto?
Who would think such a thing? - ¿Qúein pensaría tal cosa?
She would prefer (she would rather) do it like this. - Preferiría hacer(lo) así.
No one would stay there. - Nadie se quedaría allí. (Se is a reflexive pronoun here).
We would leave but we can't find the keys. - Nos iríemos pero no podemos encontrar las llaves.
I would never deposit money in that bank because I don't trust it. - Nunca no depositaría dinero en ese banco, porqúe no confía en él.
Looking at the last two examples, you will notice that the conditions present are real and not hypothetical. We can't find the keys, and I don't trust the bank.
Now let's look at a few of the common irregular verbs in the conditional tense. The irregular verbs in the conditional are the same irregular verbs as in the future tense. So if you are familiar with the irregular verbs in the future tense, this will be easier. The endings are just slightly different. And instead of saying 'will' as in the future tense, you are saying 'would'. The irregular verbs in the conditional tense are used quite often. So learn them well.
Hacer. To do or make. -haría, harías, harían, haríamos.
Would you do that? - ¿Harías eso?
They would do it, but don't want to. - Lo harían pero no tienen ganas.
I, you, she, he, would do it. - Lo haría.
Salir. To go out. -saldría, saldrías, saldrían, saldríamos.
I would go out but I don't have a car. - Saldría, pero no tengo carro.
They would go out but don't have any money. - Saldrían, pero no tienen dinero.
We would go out with you. - Saldríamos contigo.
Tener. To have. -tendría, tendrías, tendrían, tendríamos.
Juan would have a party, but its not his birthday. - Juan tendría una fiesta pero no es su cumpleaños.
I would have dinner but I'm not hungry. - Tendría cena, pero no tengo hambre.
They would have to do it. - Tendrían que hacerlo.
Poder. To be able. -podría, podrías, podrían, podríamos.
She would be able to speak Spanish, but she does not practice. - Podría hablar español, pero no lo practica.
Would they do it? - ¿Podrían hacerlo?
Who would be able to say such a thing? - ¿Qúien podría decir tal cosa?
Venir. To come. - vendría, vendrías, vendrían, vendríamos.
Would you come to my party? - Vendría(s) a mi fiesta?
They would come, but don't have time. - Vendrían, pero no tenien tiempo.
We would come, but we don't have time. - Vendríamos, pero no tenemos tiempo.
Hay. There is, there are. Habría.
There would be more money, but she spent it. - Habría más dinero, pero lo gastó.
In that case, there would be a lot to do. - En este caso, habría mucho que hacer.
Decir. To say or tell- diría, dirías, dirían, diríamos.
Who would say such a thing? - ¿Quién diría tal cosa?
They would tell her anything. - Le dirían cualquier cosa a ella.
There are a few other irregular verbs in the conditional. But these are some of the more common. So try to memorize them and use them as often as possible.
The conditional tense is very handy. It is easy to know when to use it too. Just remember when you want to use the English word 'would' (and sometimes 'could'), you will be using the conditional tense. It's also easy to conjugate because most verbs start out with the infinitive, an just the appropriate endings are added. And even the irregular verbs kind of follow their own pattern, so they are not that difficult to remember either.
As always, practice using the conditional and all the Spanish you know in live conversation.
Hope this helps!