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If-Then Statements in Spanish

Instructor: Valerie Patrick

Valerie has a Master's Degree in Foreign Language Education and has previously taught Spanish as well as Education courses.

But what happens if...? We often use 'If....then' statements to talk about what will happen if a certain condition is met. In this lesson, we'll look at different types of 'if-then' statements in Spanish and the corresponding verb tenses for each.

If-Then Clauses in Spanish

We use conditional statements all the time in our daily lives. How many times have you said 'If such and such happens, then I will do such and such'? We say this all the time. However, in Spanish, we have to use different verb conjugations and tenses depending on what we are saying in our conditional statement.

In Spanish, the word 'if' is si not to be confused with ('yes'). Statements that begin with si indicate a possibility that something will happen in either the past, present or future. Si clauses can be broken down into two primary parts.

  1. The si clause.
  2. The result - what will happen if the si clause is met.

Si + the Present Indicative

In this first type of si clause, we will use the present tense of verbs to describe the condition and the result.

Examples:

  • Si veo a mi amigo, le digo 'hola.' (If I see my friend, I say 'hello'.)
  • Si comes demasiado, tienes un dolor de estómogo. (If you eat too much, you have a stomach ache.)
  • Si corremos rápido, ganamos la carrera. (If we run fast, we win the race.)
  • Si el bebé no duerme, está cansado. (If the baby doesn't sleep, he is tired.)

Translation: If you call, I answer.
cat

Si + the Imperfect Subjunctive

In another type of si clause, we use the imperfect subjunctive tense in the first part of our clause, and the conditional tense in the second clause because these situations seem to be impossible. Before we look at this further, let's review the endings for the imperfect subjunctive and conditional.

Imperfect Subjunctive Endings

Subject Pronoun -AR Ending -IR/ER Ending
yo -ara -iera
-aras -ieras
él/ella/usted -ara -iera
nosotros/as -áramos -iéarmos
vosotros/as arais -íais
ellos/as/ustedes aran -ieran

Conditional Endings

Remember that when we conjugate verbs in the conditional tense, we simply add the endings directly on the verb in the infinitive. The endings are also the same for all 3 types of verbs.

Subject Pronoun -AR, -ER, -IR Ending
yo -ía
-ías
él/ella/usted -ía
nosotros/as -íamos
vosotros/as -íais
ellos/as/ustedes -ían

Examples:

In the following examples, take note of the first verb using the imperfect tense and the second verb using the conditional.

    • Si fuera un animal, estaría un pájaro. (If I were an animal, I would be a bird.)
    • Si estudiaras más, secarías notas mejores. (If you studied more, you would get better grades.)
    • Si ella tuviera alas, volaría. (If she had wings, she would fly.)
    • Si fuéramos a California, estaríamos perdidos. (If we went to California, we would be lost.)

Translation: If my dog could talk, he would say I am hungry.
dog

Si + Pluperfect Subjunctive

In the final if-then scenario, we will look at the use of si along with the pluperfect tense. In these examples, the si clause uses the pluperfect subjunctive and the second clause uses the past conditional.

We use theses statements to describe situations that are against past events. The result is something that did not happen due to the first clause. Before we look at examples, let's review the pluperfect subjunctive and past conditional tenses.

The pluperfect subjunctive tense is formed by using the imperfect subjunctive of the the verb haber (to have) plus the past participle of the verb. The past participle ending of -AR verbs is -ado and for -ER and -IR' verbs, the ending is -ido'.

The Imperfect Subjunctive

Subject Pronoun Haber Pronunciation
yo hubiera oo-bee-AIR-ah
hubieras oo-bee-AIR-ahs
él/ella/usted hubiera oo-bee-AIR-ah
nosotros/as hubiéramos oo-bee-AIR-ah-mos
vosotros/as hubierais oo-bee-AIR-ice
ellos/as, ustedes hubieran oo-bee-AIR-ahn

Past Conditional Tense

The past conditional tense is formed by using the conditional tense of the verb haber plus the past participle of the verb.

Subject Pronoun Haber Pronunciation
yo habría ah-BREE-ah
habrías ah-BREE-ahs
él/ella/usted habría ah-BREE-ah
nosotros/as habríamos ah-BREE-ah-mos
vosotros/as habríais ah-BREE-ice
ellos/as, ustedes habrían ah-BREE-ahn
  • Examples:
    • Si Marco hubiera llamado, habría sabido. (If Marco had called, he would have known.)
    • Si hubieran estudiado, habríamos secado una nota mejor. (If they had studied, they would have gotten a better grade.)
    • Si hubieras probado, habrías ganado. (If you had tried, you would have won.)
    • Si hubiera corrido, no habría faltado el autobús. (If I had run, I would not have missed the bus.)

Translation: If she had listened, she would have understood the directions.
confused

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