Frequently, the conditional is used to express probability, possibility, wonder or conjecture, and is usually translated as would, could, must haveor probably.
Note: when would is used in the sense of a repeated action in the past, the imperfect is used.
To conjugate regular -ar, -er and -ir verbs in the conditional, simply add one of the following to the infintive:ía
Here are all three regular conditional verb forms together:
Here are the previous examples, translated to Spanish.
The same twelve common verbs that are irregular in the future tense are also irregular in the conditional tense. Their endings are regular, but their stems change in the same way they change in the future tense. Because the endings are the same as all other conditional tense verbs, we show only the "yo" form, and have underlined the irregular stem. We have also grouped them according to their patterns of change.Caber >> yo cabría
Let's look at some specific uses of the conditional.
To express speculation about the past:
To express the future from the perspective of the past:
To express hypothetical actions or events which may or may not occur:
To indicate what would happen were it not for some certain specific circumstance:
For polite use to soften requests:
To ask for advice:
For reported speech:
To express what would be done in a particular situation:
To express an action which is contrary to fact:
Finally, a few words need to be said to call attention to the contrasting uses of the future and the conditional. As previously stated, the conditional is used for conjecture and to express probability with regards to a past action, as in the following example:
If, however, the conjecture or expression of probability is about the present, the future tense is used:
With regards to reported speech, notice that if the main clause is in the past, the conditional is used.
But if the main clause is in the present, the future is used.