The conditional tense gets its name because you’re describing what would or could happen in the future given certain circumstances or conditions. It’s often used for hypothetical situations or making requests politely. In fact, it’s similar in English! We often ask, “Could you … ?” to ask someone politely to do something. That’s the conditional!
Learning the conditional will open up your ability to talk about the future, desires, and ask people to do things in a more polite way. Ultimately, it’ll help you communicate better with native speakers and feel much more confident.
Endings for the Conditional Tense
These endings might look super familiar to you! That’s because the endings for the conditional tense is actually the same as the imperfect tense:
- Yo -ía
- Tú -ías
- Él/ella/usted -ía
- Nosotros/a -íamos
- Vosotros/as -íais
- Ellos/ellas/ustedes -ían
You might be thinking- if the conditional tense has the same endings as the imperfect, how would you know the difference? The answer is simple- for the conditional tense, you attach the ending to the end of the infinitive.
For example, if I want to say “I would cook”, I would take the verb cocinar and add the ending for the –yo form in the conditional tense. I would say “Yo cocinaría.”
Fortunately, the conditional tense doesn’t have too many irregular forms. Many verbs are simply the infinitive +conditional tense ending. However, there are some verbs that have an irregular stem in this form. If you’ve already learned the future tense, these stems will look familiar- they’re the same!
Some of the most common irregular verbs and their stems for the conditional are:
- Tener– tendr *to have
- Poner– pondr *to put/place
- Valer– valdr *to value
- Salir– saldr *to leave
- Venir– vendr *to come
- Poder– podr *to be able to
- Haber– habr *to have
- Caber– cabr *to fit
- Querer– querr *to want
- Saber– sabr *to know
- Hacer– har *to do/make
- Decir– dir *to say
Hopefully these tips helped you understand this tense a bit more. Now it’s just time to practice!