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Conjugating the Conditional Tense

Few Irregular Verbs Break the Pattern

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The conjugation of the conditional tense is fairly straightforward, because all three types of verbs (-ar, -er and -ir) use the same ending, and the ending is applied to the infinitive rather than to a portion of the verb. Also, there are few irregular verbs in the conditional.

These are the endings that are applied to turn an infinitive to a verb in the conditional tense:

  • First-person singular (I): -ía
  • Second-person singular (familiar you): -ías
  • Third-person singular (he, she, formal you): -ía
  • First-person plural (we): -íamos
  • Second-person plural (familiar you): -íais
  • Third-person plural (they, familiar you): -ían
As an example, here are the conjugated forms of vivir (to live) using the same pattern as is applied to all regular verbs.
  • yo viviría, I would live
  • tú vivirías, you (informal singular) would live
  • usted, él, ella viviría, you (formal singular), he, she would live
  • nosotros, nosotras viviríamos, we would live
  • vosotros, vosotras viviríais, you (informal plural) would live
  • ellos, ellas ustedes vivirían, they, you (plural formal) would live
You may notice that the endings attached to the infinitives are the same as the endings of haber in the imperfect, just as the endings attached to infinitives to make the future tense are the same as the endings of haber in the present tense.

And there's another similarity with the future tense: Some verbs are irregular in the future tense in that the ending is attached to a stem rather than the infinitive. The same verbs that are irregular in the future tense are irregular in the conditional, and in the same way. So just as the first-person future of tener is tendré instead of teneré, the first-person conditional of tener is tendría instead of tenería. The same pattern is followed for the other persons, with this being the full conjugation of tener in the conditional: tendría, tendrías, tendría, tendríamos, tendríais, tendrían.

Here are the most common verbs that are irregular in the conditional:

  • caber (to fit): cabría, cabrías ...
  • decir (to say): diría, dirías ...
  • haber (to have): habría, habrías ...
  • hacer (to do or make): haría, harías ...
  • poder (to be able): podría, podrías ...
  • poner (to put): pondría, pondrías ...
  • querer (to want): querría, querrías ...
  • saber (to know): sabría, sabrías ...
  • salir (to leave): saldría, saldrías ...
  • valer (to be worth): valdría, valdrías ...
  • venir (to come): vendría, vendrías ...
The other verbs that are irregular in the conditional are based on these verbs. For example, proponer follows the pattern of poner, and deshacer follows the pattern of hacer.

Finally, here are some examples of sentences using the conditional:

  • Te amaría si supiera tu nombre. I would love you if I knew your name.
  • No compraríamos tantas cosas. We would never buy so many things.
  • Si me preguntan, yo diría que lo mejor es decir no. If they ask me, I would say that the best thing is to say no.
  • Nos decían que no saldríamos vivos. They told us we would not leave alive.
  • Si recomendaran mi libro ¿lo leerían ustedes? If they were to recommend my book, would you read it?

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