The last lesson was about the conjugations and the uses of the conditional tense. In this lesson, we will cover a closely related subject (if clauses) and also have a look at the conjugations of the conditional perfect tense. The “if clauses” as in English are used to define events which would occur if a kind of condition is realized.
The sentences formed with “if” which define a condition, consist of two parts: a main sentence and the if clause. If clauses are formed using the word “si” in Spanish. When using if clauses the following classification is very useful.
1. If clauses formed for real, likely conditions
Recall what you learned about the subjunctive mood. It is used for situations where uncertainty exists. Therefore, you might guess that you must avoid using any form of the subjunctive mood if the si clause is to be used for likely or real situations and it is correct. In this first type of “if clauses”, always indicative tenses are used. This is the case for both parts of the sentence.
The part with the “si clause” is expressed always with the present indicative tense. On the other hand, the main part of the sentence can be expressed either in present, future or imperative.
Si sales, salgo también (If you leave, I leave too)
Si ella viene, iremos al theatro (If he comes, we’ll go to the theatre)
Si nieva mucho, no trabajo (If it snows too much, I won’t work)
Si puedes, llama por favor (If you can please call)
2. If clauses formed for unreal, unlikely conditions
The second type of “si” clause is used for the unreal, unlikely and contrary conditions. Because unlikeliness and / or uncertainties exist, subjunctive is used in this case. But be careful, because the present subjunctive is never used with the si clauses. You need to use either the imperfect subjunctive or the past perfect subjunctive. In case of present and future situations, the imperfect subjunctive is used. In case of past time situations, the past perfect subjunctive is used.
Si yo tuviera dinero, habría ido al theatro. (If I had the money, I would go to the theatre)
Si fueras con nosotros, podrías ver a Carlos (If you came with us, you could see Carlos)
Si hubiera sabido, hubiera ido contigo. (If I had known, I would have gone with you)
Conditional Perfect Tense
Let us have a look at another topic related to the conditional subject, but what we did not cover yet. It is the conditional perfect tense. It corresponds to “would have done” construction of English. The conditional perfect tense is formed by the verb haber conjugated in the conditional tense and the past participle.
The conditional conjugation of haber is as follows
(tú ) habrías
(él/ella, usted) habría
(ellos/-as, ustedes) habrían
As you learned before, the past participle is formed by adding the endings -ado to “-ar” verbs and -ido to “-er” and “-ir” verbs. So that
(yo) habría hablado I would have spoken
(tú ) habrías hablado you would have spoken
(él/ella, usted) habría hablado he/she/you would have spoken
(nosotros/-as) habríamos hablado we would have spoken
(vosotros/-as) habríais hablado you would have spoken
(ellos/-as, ustedes) habrían hablado they you would have spoken
(yo) habría vivido I would have lived
(tú ) habrías vivido you would have lived
(él/ella, usted) habría vivido he/she/you would have lived
(nosotros/-as) habríamos vivido we would have lived
(vosotros/-as) habríais vivido you would have lived
(ellos/-as, ustedes) habrían vivido they you would have lived
(yo) habría comido I would have eaten
(tú ) habrías comido you would have eaten
(él/ella, usted) habría comido he/she/you would have eaten
(nosotros/-as) habríamos comido we would have eaten
(vosotros/-as) habríais comido you would have eaten
(ellos/-as, ustedes) habrían comido they you would have eaten
Learn some easy and practical phrases with si
si bien although
si no if not, otherwise
¿y si ..? What if ...