Using the Conditional in Spanish II

As we said in a previous post, conditional sentences express different meanings. That depends on the verbal tenses we are using for building them. And that is why we have three different conditional sentences types.

In this post, we are going to talk about the second type. Let’s see a typical capitalist example:

That is how I imagine rich people buying castles.

Si fuera rica me compraría un castillo → (If I were rich, I would buy a castle). 

  • The first clause, «Si fuera rica», is expressing the condition. Here, we are using the subjunctive because we want to put it afar. It is something unlikely, virtual. 
  • The second clause, «me compraría un castillo», expresses the consequence. In this case, we have used the Conditional Simple because we are settling a hypothesis and we are not committed to it. As we shall see, depending on what we want to say in this clause, we can play with different verbal tenses. 

Actually, when we talk about Spanish grammar, we are so much free than we expected at the beginning. It is usual in grammar (the same happen when we talk about the Subjunctive or the Past Simple), and it is essential to have it in mind. Grammar is not a pile of fixated one-way rules. Grammar, like vocabulary, is a tool for us to express ideas full of nuances.Depending on what we want to say, we can use one or another structure.

In this post, we are going to take a look at different combinations. For that, we are going to use the Imperfect Subjunctive in the condition clause systematically.

Si + Imperfect Subjunctive + Present Conditional

That is the most common structure for this conditional. It is also the first one we learn, and we can use it in several ways.

To Give Advice

There are plenty of ways to give advice. We can lend it using the Imperative, rhetorical questions or structures as «Yo que tú + Present Conditional». We can also do it by using the Second Conditional:

We should see a specialist when we are feeling under the weather

For example, we have a friend who has been suffering from severe anxiety for a long time. We could say:

  • Si yo fuera tú, buscaría un buen psicólogo → (If I were you, I would look for a good psycologist). 
  • Si estuviera en tu lugar, empezaría a hacer yoga → (If I were you, I would start practicing yoga). 

Imagined Situations 

We use this structure to talk about those things we do not think are going to happen. Also, we use them to posit something or to create alternative universes.

  • Si fuera un unicornio, me gustaría tener alas → (If I were a unicorn I would like to wear wings). → It is impossible, I can not have a pair of wings, and I can not be a unicorn. I am just daydreaming. 
  • Si me tocara la lotería, sería bastante feliz → (If I won the lottery I would be rather happy). → This situation could happen, but it is improbable.

To Ask for Something

If we want to ask for something we should be very polite. One of the main courtesy strategies in Spanish consists in moving away the experience from us. To do that, we can take several ways. For example, we can use the second conditional:

Moving to a new house is terrible. That is why we should use the conditional and give our friends some pizza

Moving to a new house is something terrible. It is vital to use the conditional for not compromising our friends:

  • Si mañana tuvieras tiempo, ¿podrías ayudarme con la mudanza? → (If you had the time, could you help me move to my new house?) → We are not taking their help for granted, and we want to make it clear. 
  • Si fueras tan amable, ¿querrías traerme un poco de agua? → (Would you be so kind as to bring me some water?)→ We are, again, not taking anything for granted. «Si fueras tan amable», is a common structure when we want to be extra polite in Spanish. 

Si + Imperfect Subjunctive + Present Simple

As we said before, the most commonly used structure is the previous one. However, sometimes we want to express nuances. That is why we can use the present simple in the second clause.

Let’s take a look: 

  • Si me tocara la lotería, me compro una casa → (If I won the lottery, I buy a house).
  • Si yo fuera tú, dejo el trabajo → (If I were you, I quit my job).

In both situations, we want to express the lack of odds of us winning the lottery or the impossibility of us being another person. That is why we are using the Imperfect Subjunctive. However, we want also to make something clear: we are committed 100% to the second clause. We would buy a house or quite the job for sure. That is why we use the Present Simple: to empathise and put our compromise in context.

As we said before, we use the Imperfect Subjunctive to express an unreal situation. But grammar is actually much more flexible. If we want to increase our compromise with what we are telling, we could have the following circumstance:

You have a friend, and she is talking to you about a car crash. The accident was not her fault. However, the other driver was mad, yelling and, overall, unpolite. We can put ourselves in her place and say:

Men always think they are right
  • Yo soy tú y le mando a la mierda → (I am you and I send him to hell). 
  • Si yo soy tú, le mando a la mierda → (If I am you, I send him to hell).

Does that mean that we are going to turn into our friends? No, of course not. What we are settling is the maximum empathy degree with her situation.

If you want to take a look at other Conditional sentences, you can also check:

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