Future Conditional in Spanish

Instructor: Maria Elena Knolle Cano

Maria Elena has taught Spanish and German to learners of all levels in Europe, Asia and Australia and has a Master's degree in Cultural Studies and Communication.

The conditional tense in Spanish is used to express a probability or a possibility that might happen in the future. We are also going to learn how to conjugate it and how to apply it in example sentences.

Dreaming Of The Future

''You may say I'm a dreamer. But I am not the only one'' - famous words from the song Imagine by John Lennon. Are you a dreamer? And if so, do you know how to express wonders, future possibilities or options?

In order to make dreams come to life it's often helpful to write them down and to visualize what you want to achieve. To do all that in Spanish would be nearly impossible without the help of the wonderful conditional tense! Despite its dry name, this tense conveys a world of possibilities, of unexplored options, of 'could's' and 'would's'.

The Conditional Tense Basics

Let's get down to business before getting back into dreamy spheres: the conditional tense expresses a conditional action - describing situations that are contingent upon some other condition or situation. 'I would if I could' may sum up nicely the meaning this tense wants to convey. Therefore the Spanish conditional tense corresponds to the usage of the English word would.

When is it a good idea to use the conditional? Its foremost purpose is to demonstrate hypothetical situations that may or may not yet happen. The conditional tense is therefore often used in a sentence with two verbs. Let's take the following example sentence:

  • Si tuviera mucho dinero, os invitaría a todos a cenar. ('If I had a lot of money, I would invite you all out for dinner.')

In this example sentence, the first verb (tuviera, the subjuntivo form of the verb tener) states the condition, the second verb (invitaría, the conditional form of the verb invitar), in the conditional tense, states what you would do if that situation or condition existed.

Mucho dinero, a lot of money
money money money

Polite Requests or Suggestions

You can also use the conditional tense to make a polite request, such as in:

  • ¿Podrías pasarme la sal, por favor? ('Would you pass me the salt, please?')

Another possibility to use the conditional tense consists in suggesting that someone perform a certain action:

  • ¿Tú irías a recoger la carta por mí, verdad? ('You would pick up the letter for me, right?')

Conditional Tense Conjugations

The conditional tense is not just a dreamy fellow, but also a quite helpful one, as we can simply take the entire infinitive form of the verbs we want to conjugate as our stem, and add specific endings to them.

Let's take a look a the regular verb comer (to eat) and how we would transform it into the conditional tense in the adjacent table. Note that the specific endings are bolded:

Pronoun Conjugated Verb in Conditional tense Pronunciation Translation
Yo comería koh-may-REE-ah I would eat
comerías koh-may-REE-ahs You would eat
Él, ella, Usted comería koh-may-REE-ah He, she, you(formal) would eat
Nosotros, nosotras comeríamos koh-may-REE-ahmos We(male, female) would eat
Vosotros, vosotras comeríais koh-may-REE-ahys You(plural male, female) would eat
Ellos, ellas, Ustedes comerían koh-may-REE-ahn They (male, female), you (formal, plural) would eat

Following this example, you can form the conditional tense for any regular verb now by adding the bolded endings seen in the table to the whole infinitive form of the verb. Got it? Excellent, let's get to the magical part then!

Example Conversation

What would you wish for, if a wish-granting fairy suddenly appeared in front of you and asked for your heart's desires? That's exactly the question the amigos ('friends') Ignacio, Susana, and Pedro are debating. Let's see what they have to reveal about their secret desires:

Una hada regalando deseos, a fairy granting wishes
fairy granting wishes

Ignacio: Yo viajaría por todo el mundo. ('I would travel around the whole world.')

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