Spanish Grammar: Spanish Verbs

Subjunctive — Conditional Sentences (Si Clauses)

A conditional sentence is a sentence consisting of two clauses, a dependent clause beginning with if and a main clause or answer to the if clause. A conditional sentence denotes what would happen (result) in case something else were to happen (condition). Sometimes the event is presented as contrary to reality; at other times it is admitted as real or probable.

Si Juan viene, traerá los libros.
If John comes, he will bring the books.

Conditional sentences are of three classes:

1. Future-possible conditions. (If I build it he will come).

2. Present-unreal conditions. (If I built it he would come).

3. Past-unreal conditions. (If I had built it he would have come).

a) Future-possible conditions: A future-possible condition is one which indicates a simple future action which may or may not take place. This type of condition offers no difficulty. In Spanish, as in English, the present tense is used in the if clause, and the future tense is used in the main or answer clause.

Si Juan viene, traerá los libros.

If John comes, he will bring the books.

Si tengo tiempo mañana, iré a la playa.

If I have time tomorrow, I will go to the beach.

Note: Instead of the future tense, the imperative may be used where appropriate.

Si Ud. tiene el dinero para hacerlo, vaya de vacaciones este verano.

If you have money to do it, go on vacation this summer.

b) Present-unreal conditions: A present-unreal condition is one which, while referring in general to present time, indicates some unreal or contrary-to-fact situation. In such conditions, the imperfect subjunctive is used in the if clause and the conditional is used in the main or answer clause.

Si Juan tuviera un automóvil, pasaría sus vacaciones en el campo.

If John had an automobile, he would spend his vacations in the country. (He does not have one)

Si María supiera nadar, iría a la playa todos los días.

If Mary knew how to swim, she would go to the beach every day. (She does not know how).

NOTE: In these sentences there is indicated a hypothetical situation which is unreal or contrary-to-fact.

c) Past-unreal conditions: A past-unreal condition refers to past time but otherwise functions in the same way as a present-unreal condition, indicating an unreal or contrary-to-fact situation. In past-unreal conditions, the pluperfect subjunctive is used in the if clause and the perfect conditional is used in the main or answer clause.

Si hubiéramos llegado un día antes, habríamos tenido una mejor habitación.

If we had arrived a day before, we would have had a better room. (We did not arrive a day before.)

Si yo hubiera tenido el dinero ayer, habría comprado el reloj.

If I had had the money yesterday, I should (or would) have bought the watch. (I did not have the money.)

NOTE: Here again, as in the case of present-unreal conditions, there
is indicated a hypothetical situation which is unreal or contrary-to-fact.

via Spanish Subjunctive — Conditional Sentences (Si Clauses): Spanish Verbs.

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