Some linguists and Spanish teachers call the conditional a different tense, others a different mood. I would have to agree. If the imperative—used for commands—is considered a different mood, why shouldn’t the conditional? I consider the conditional to be a different mood, as compared to the other Spanish moods: indicative, subjunctive, and the imperative.
Generally, language instructors teach the future tense before they teach the conditional. This is done for two reasons 1. The future is lot more straightforward than the conditional 2. You conjugate the conditional with the same root as the future. This includes irregular verbs.
Before we delve into the uses of the conditional, let’s look at how you conjugate the future and the conditional. If you haven’t read the article on the future tense, please be sure to do so.
To conjugate the future tense, simply keep the entire verb and add the following for each subject pronoun:
As with the future tense, keep the root and add the following endings:
All irregular verbs in the future tense are also irregular in the conditional mood. Use the same root as the future and add the conditional ending. I chose to conjugate the following verbs in first person singular/third person singular. As you might’ve noticed above, these two subject pronouns use the same conjugation in the conditional.
caber – to fit – cabría
decir – to say – diría
haber – there is, there are – habría
hacer – to do – haría
querer -to want, to love – querría
poder – can, be able to – podría
poner – to put – pondría
saber – to know – sabría
salir – to go out – saldría
tener – to have – tendría
valer – to be worth, to cost – valdría
venir – to come – vendría
The conditional has three main uses, which I have labelled with the acronym DÍA, as in “day.”
Me gustaría ser doctor cuando sea grande – I’d like to be a doctor when I grow up.
Trabajaría en esa empresa. Es grande y ofrece buenos beneficios – I’d work at that company. It is large and offers good benefits.
With the subjunctive: Si me hicieran una oferta, trabajaría en esa empresa. Es grande y ofrece buenos beneficios – If they made me an offer, I’d work at that company. It is large and offers good benefits.
Indicative: Tienes que trabajar menos – You have to work less.
Conditional: Podrías trabajar menos – You could work less.
When expressing your opinions about a situation, you can also use the conditional.
El gobierno debería enfocarse más en el bien de la gente y no en sus propios intereses- The government should focus more on the good of the people and not on its own interests.
Exercises with the conditional, part I
Now that you know and understand the different uses of the conditional in Spanish, please identify whether the following sentences are referring to a desire, an imaginary situation, advice, or an opinion.
Answers: 1. Opinion/advice; 2. Desire; 3. Opinion/advice (sometimes unsolicited); 4. Imaginary situations; 5. Imaginary situations
Please choose the correct option between indicative and conditional. Try not to look at the translation.
Answers: 1. compraría ; 2. hace; 3. viviría; 4. bajaría; 5. quieren; 6. gustaría; 7. gusta; 8. sería; 9. sois; 10. podrías
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Irma is a trained linguist, native Spanish speaker, and teacher. She is the founder and CEO of Diáfano.
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