Spanish Conditional Tenses – The Complete Guide

Conditional sentences are a common part of our everyday communication. For those of you, who are not very well versed in grammar terms, conditionals refer to the famous “IF” (also “when” or “unless”) clauses. 

You know:

“If I find a better job…”,

“If I were 20 years younger…”,

“If I had listened to my mother’s advice…”, and such.

They all include a condition and a consequence, which – depending on the context – can be realistic or only hypothetical. 

Does Spanish have a conditional tense? You bet it does! Luckily for you, they are built upon similar foundations to the English ones. 

The Three MainTypes of Spanish Conditional Tense 

Depending on your level of Spanish, you might have come across one, two, or even all the types of conditional sentences.  

  • The 1st conditional, which describes a probable future occurrence

🇪🇸 Si te olvidas de tomar tus pastillas, te va a subir la presión. 
🇬🇧 If you forget to take your pills, your pressure will go up. 

  • The 2nd conditional, which describes a hypothetical or highly improbable situation.

🇪🇸 Si tuviera mucho dinero, regalaría una casa a cada uno de mis amigos.  
🇬🇧 If I had a lot of money, I’d buy a house for every single one of my friends. 

  • The 3rd conditional, which describes imaginary past situations.

🇪🇸 If I hadn’t cheated on my wife, she wouldn’t have divorced me. 
🇬🇧 Si no hubiera engañado a mi esposa, ella no se habría divorciado de mí. 

As you can see, the examples become progressively more complex in terms of grammar, and the probability of the described situations decreases. 

How to Form First Conditional in Spanish 

If your level of Spanish belongs somewhere between A1 and A2, you should be able to conjugate verbs in the present tense and know the Spanish Future Tense. 

That’s all you need to form the 1st conditional and talk about possible future consequences to realistic conditions.  

Let’s have a look:

🇪🇸 Si sales sin chaqueta, te vas a resfriar. 
🇬🇧 If you leave without a jacket, you’ll catch a cold. 

🇪🇸 Si me tomo un café a esta hora, no podré dormir en la noche. 
🇬🇧 If I drink coffee at this time, I won’t be able to sleep at night. 

🇪🇸 Si el tiempo está bueno mañana, iremos a la playa. 
🇬🇧 If the weather is good tomorrow, we’ll go to the beach. 

🇪🇸 ¿Qué vas a hacer si te roban la billetera?
🇬🇧 What’ll you do if you get your wallet stolen?

🇪🇸 Si no se piden perdón, niños, no les daré postre. 
🇬🇧 If you don’t apologize to each other, kids, I won’t give you any dessert. 

As you can see all the sentences can be divided into two parts, where the red one expresses a probable condition and the green one – its future outcome. 

How about the grammar patterns needed in the Spanish 1st conditional? 

The condition uses the simple present tense, the so-called Presente de Indicativo, while the consequence is commonly described with the use of Futuro Simple

Still struggling with Spanish verb conjugations? You may want to read my posts on Spanish Verbs and Ways to Express Future in Spanish

Second Conditional Tense in Spanish As a Way to Talk About Wishes

While the previous structure referred to situations that may really happen, the 2nd conditional in Spanish deals with ideas that are either purely hypothetical or highly unlikely. 

🇪🇸 Test Your Spanish Knowledge 🇪🇸

Just like in English, when you say: “If I were the President…” or “If I won the lottery…”, the chances of you actually becoming the president or winning the lottery are rather slim, aren’t they?

Yet, the improbability of fulfilling the condition doesn’t stop us from fantasizing, which makes 2nd conditional tense very common both in English and Spanish. 

Let’s take a closer look at how it is built by analyzing a few examples:

🇪🇸 Si fuera casado, no podría ir de fiesta todas las noches con mis amigos. 
🇬🇧 If I were married, I couldn’t party every night with my friends. 

🇪🇸 Si tuviera más tiempo libre, me incribiría al gimnasio.  
🇬🇧 If I drink coffee at this time, I won’t be able to sleep at night. 

🇪🇸 Si viviera aún con mis padres, no tendría que pagar el arriendo. 
🇬🇧 If I still lived with my parents, I wouldn’t have to pay the rent. 

🇪🇸 ¿Qué dirían tus padres si te vieran así?
🇬🇧 What would your parents do if they saw you like this?

🇪🇸 ¿A dónde viajarías, si pudieras ir a cualquier parte?
🇬🇧 Where would you travel, if you could go anywhere?

I, for once, would go to Colombia. Best coffee in the world! In fact, every Spanish-speaking country is unique and worth visiting. 

But let’s not get distracted. 

How are the examples above similar and how are they different from those we saw for Spanish 1st conditional?

While the main logic of the structure remains the same – again, we see a condition and a consequence – the grammar tenses are quite different. 

To express the condition, you now need a special Spanish verb form called Subjuntivo. I have recently written a whole post dedicated to this structure, so feel welcome to use it as your reference.  

And what’s the grammar we apply to express the outcome, should the condition get fulfilled? In English, you’d simply use WOULD together with a verb in the infinitive (basic) form. 

Unfortunately, there is no word in Spanish that could translate as WOULD. What you have to do to give your verb the necessary hypothetical sound, you add the “-ÍA” ending to its infinitive form. 

Here’s how it goes, then:

🇪🇸 yo comería 
🇬🇧 I would eat

🇪🇸 tú te enojarías
🇬🇧 you would get angry

🇪🇸 él hablaría
🇬🇧 he would speak

🇪🇸 nosotros compraríamos
🇬🇧 we would buy

🇪🇸 vosotros iríais
🇬🇧 you (plural) would go

🇪🇸 ellos entenderían
🇬🇧 they would understand

And so on, and so forth. There are, of course, certain exceptions, but they are few and easy to remember:

🇪🇸 salir –     (Yo) saldría contigo, si me lo pidieras.
🇬🇧 to go out –     I’d go out with you if you asked me. 

🇪🇸 venir –     (Yo) vendría a verte si estuvieras enfermo.
🇬🇧 to come –     I’d come to see you if you were sick. 

🇪🇸 tener –     (Yo) tendría muchos ahorros, si no gastara tanto. 
🇬🇧 to have –     I’d have a lot of savings if I didn’t spend so much money. 

🇪🇸 saber –     (Yo) sabría contestar esta pregunta si estuviera en español y no en chino 
🇬🇧 to know –     I’d know how to answer this question if it was in Spanish and not German.

🇪🇸 poder –     (Yo) podría acompañarte, si no tuviera que cocinar ahora. 
🇬🇧 can –     I could accompany you, if I didn’t have to cook now. 

🇪🇸 hacer –    (Yo) haría mí mejor esfuerzo, si me ofrecieras un ascenso. 
🇬🇧 to do –      I’d do my best if you offer me a promotion. 

🇪🇸 decir –    (Yo) diría toda la verdad, si me llamaran de testigo. 
🇬🇧 to say –    I’d tell all the truth if I was called in as a witness. 

To wrap up, this is the key information about Spanish Second Conditional Tense: 

Spanish 3rd Conditional and When to Use It

The structure that I am about to present is part of the content you’ll see when you reach the B2 / C1 level. It combines complex verb conjugations, so don’t worry if you find it a little scary. 

I feel like it is worth mentioning the 3rd conditional, as the context it encompasses is a frequent part of everyday language. 

You’ll need the Third Conditional Tense in Spanish when you want to express regrets about your past or wonder “WHAT IF”.

Just like in these examples:

🇪🇸 Si hubiera estudiado para la prueba, no me habría sacado tan mal puntaje. 
🇬🇧 If I had studied for the test, I wouldn’t have gotten such a bad score. 

🇪🇸 Si no hubiera tomado tanto anoche, no me habría quedado dormido esta mañana.  
🇬🇧 If I hadn’t drunk so much last night, I wouldn’t have overslept this morning. 

🇪🇸 Si me hubieras dicho que la maleta estaba pesada, te habría ayudado a cargarla. 
🇬🇧 If you had told me the suitcase was so heavy, I would have helped you to carry it. 

🇪🇸 ¿Con quién te habrías casado si no hubieras conocido a Alicia?
🇬🇧 What would your parents do if they saw you like this?

🇪🇸 ¿Me habrías prestado dinero si te lo hubiera pedido? 
🇬🇧 Would you have lent me money if I had asked you?

If you feel brave enough, let’s break those sentences apart and see what they are made of, shall we?

This time, the condition seems to be based on two main elements: “hubiera” – which is the subjunctive form of the Spanish verb Haber – and the past participle of your main verb. 

How about the outcome (as impossible as it is)? It requires two elements as well: one of them being the verb Haber – yet, in a different form than beforeplus a past participle once again. 

It might all sound a bit overwhelming at first, but when you take a close look you’ll realize it is not that different from English.  

The condition:

Ifhad known

The consequence: 

yo habríahechoalgo distinto
Iwould havedonesomething else

When presented this comparison, my students usually come up with one question:

Why do I need “hubiera” when in English I simply put the verb “to have” in the past tense?

The answer is quite simple: English grammar is rather poor when it comes to the subjunctive form and “replaces” it with other structures. 

In Spanish, on the other hand, the subjunctive conjugation is very developed. Anyway, for the 3rd conditional tense in Spanish, you’ll only need this one verb: HABER. Here’s its complete subjunctive conjugation:

Yo hubiera
tú hubieras
él hubiera
nosotros hubiéramos
vosotros hubierais
ellos hubieran

or, if you want to sound more elegant and fancy, you can also conjugate it this way:

Yo hubiese
tú hubieses
él hubiese
nosotros hubiésemos
vosotros hubieseis
ellos hubiesen

To finish with, let’s see the summary of what’s most relevant about the Spanish Third Conditional 


If you want to practice the 3rd conditional some more, think about all the regrets you have about bad decisions you have made in life. Think of how your life could have been different…

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Joanna Lupa
Joanna Lupa
Polish by birth, Chilean by the turns of life. Has spent 20 years in that beautiful South American country working as a language teacher and translator. Has taught Spanish and English to students of all proficiency levels. Passionate about languages, books, and traveling. A mother of 2 trilingual teenagers.

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