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Conditional Tense


Definition: The verb tense that is used to indicate that an action or state of being is dependent on the occurrence of a condition.

In both English and Spanish, the condition does not need to be explicitly stated. For example, in the sentence "I would eat it" (Yo lo comería), the condition is not stated but would be implied by the context.

In English, the conditional tense is formed using the auxiliary verb "would," although "would" also has other uses. In Spanish, the conditional tense has historical ties to the future tense and is often known as the hypothetical future tense. Like the future tense, the conditional tenses use verb endings that attach to the infinitive rather than the verb stem. The conjugated forms of hablar in the conditional tense, for example, are yo hablaría, tú hablarías, el/ella/usted hablaría, nosotros hablaríamos, vosotros hablaríais, ellos/ellan hablarían. The conjugated forms of regular -er and -ir verbs are constructed the same way.

Also Known As: Futuro hipotético, tiempo potencial or tiempo condicional in Spanish.
Verbs in the conditional (future hypothetical) are in boldface: It would be a surprise. (Sería una sorpresa.) The wives would not understand. (Las esposas no comprenderían.) If you were able to play, would you be happy? (Si pudieras jugar, ¿estarías feliz?)
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