No entiendo cómo utilizar el condicional. Es el único tiempo que ha sido un problema para mí.

Por ejemplo: ¿Qué hora sería? lo que significa "What time could it have been"

Acabo de empezar las lecciones, pero parecen muy difícil a mi. He estado aprendiendo español durante dos meses, por lo tanto, ayudar con mi gramática sería genial también.

Por favor, escribe (escriban?) tus respuestas en inglés.

  • usando la palabra "sería" es sencillo... pero, no estoy bueno con el tiempo condicional en general. (si puedo decir/escribir eso) - reinosubterr Feb 25, 2012
  • It's clearing up as I read... but feel free to chime in anyway. - reinosubterr Feb 25, 2012
  • You are doing extremely well for someone who has only been learning Spanish for two months. I find this almost hard to believe. ¿Quantos horas estudias todos los dias? - 00a50c57 Feb 26, 2012
  • y ¿Cuántas horas a la semana son sus clases de Español? - 00a50c57 Feb 26, 2012
  • yo estudio como un hombre loco. Tengo demasiado tiempo libre, lol... - reinosubterr Feb 26, 2012

6 Answers



Well, let's talk about the conditional in spanish and its corresponding tense in english. I'm going to conjugate in spanish and english the same verb and in both cases it will be in the conditional form. So the verb will be: jugar (to play). Here we go:

First in spanish

  • Yo jugaría
  • Tú jugarías
  • Él jugaría
  • Ella jugaría
  • Nosotros jugaríamos
  • Ustedes jugarían
  • Ellos jugarían

Now here we go with the corresponding tense in english:

  • I would play
  • You would play
  • He would play
  • She would play
  • We would play
  • You would play
  • They would play

The conditional is used as a consequence of a condition. Let me see if I can make it clear. Let's think about this sentence: If I were a bird, I would fly around. So, in this sentence we have a condition and a consequence if that condition ocurred. The condition is being a bird. Let's suppose that the condition occurs, this is to say, let's suppose that I am a bird, then I can fly around. Well, but the reality is that I am not a bird, and if i am not bird then it means that the consequence didn't occur either. - Well, this is the way in wich the conditional is used. As you can see, the conditional is represented by the sentence constructed with "would". The other sentense that represents the condition (If I were a bird) is known in spanish as "the subjunctive".

Now I'm going to explain how to construct the conditional in spanish. There is one requirement to understand this: you have to know what a verb in its ifinitive form is. It would be long to explain here what it is, so I will only tell you that a verb in the infinitive form in spanish may have three different endings: -ar (jugar, cantar, pensar, etc.); -er (correr, comer, oler, etc.); -ir (sentir, ir, dormir, etc.). So, if you want to construct the conditional, you have to take the verb in its infinitive form and then you have to add to the verb the following endings depending on the person: -ía, ías, íamos, ían. Let's see some examples. I'm going to take the verb in its infinitive form and I'm going to add it the corresponding ending:

  • Yo cantaría Yo correría Yo dormiría
  • Tú cantarías Tú correrías Tú dormirías
  • Él cantaría Él correría Él dormiría
  • Ella cantaría Ella correria Ella dormiría
  • Nosotros cantaríamos Nos. correríamos Nos. dormiríamos
  • Ustedes cantarían Uds. correrían Uds. dormirían
  • Ellos cantarían Ellos correrían Ellos dormirían

Notice how I took the verb in its infinitive form and then i just added the corresponding endings. In the other hand, notice that this only work for regular verbs, not for irregular. Finally, this is the way we use the conditional in México, in Spain some endings change, but you can be understood in any spanish speaking country using these endings to construct the conditional.

Now, i think that the question "¿Qué hora sería?" is not exactly conditional but your translation (what time could it have been?) is correct. I will try to give an explanation for this tomorrow. In fact, as a spanish native speaker i can tell you that this question may be ambiguous. Tomorrow I will tell you why.

Finally, I would say: escriban sus respuestas en Inglés.

  • Feb 26, 2012
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  • Wow, that's a kind of impressive answer, thanks for that, even though I didn't asked the question (but are very interested as well). Would you mind to double-check my answer? I think it should be the answer why the translation is correct. Thx. - tombot Feb 26, 2012
  • I hadn't noticed your answer, but in my point of view it's an excelent explanation, it really clarifies both cases. - MiguelRF Feb 26, 2012
  • Gracias por la ayuda, pero no tengo un problema con los conceptos basicos. It was that particular sentence structure that threw me off "Qué hora sería" because I couldn't wrap my mind around the translation given (en ese caso) Other than that,es sencillo - reinosubterr Feb 26, 2012
  • *básicos (con acento) - reinosubterr Feb 26, 2012


The conditional tense is the way we would say "would." Therefore, "¿Qué hora sería? means "what time would it be?"

Also, for general grammar in your question

It's more natural to say "me parece(n)" instead of"parece(n) a mi." I'm not even sure if the second one is grammatically correct.

"He estado aprendiendopor dos meses" instead of "durante"

Other than that, you're doing really well with your Spanish for only two months.

  • Feb 26, 2012
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  • Thanks smet, (pero me parecen muy difícil) - okay, which takes me to the question... You caught it. I translated it strictly as "What time would it be?" which in english grammar would imply something totally different from "what time could it have been" - reinosubterr Feb 26, 2012
  • Also, why can't I use durante? Although I understand that por is used for length of time. - reinosubterr Feb 26, 2012


A really nice question. You should keep on posting questions like that (I'm constantly learning new things through that wink).

Actually the translation "What time would it be?" is incorrect.

The conditional is used to express speculations, probabilities and possibilities. That's why you can normally translate it with would, could or probably.

It should be clear that ¿Qué hora sería? is an question about a speculation of the time. But it is a question regarding the past, so the translation "What time could it have been?" is correct. This is the case because the future tense is used when talking about speculation in the present. So "What time can/would it be?" would be translated into ¿Qué hora será?.

Sounds a little bit weird I know, but you can read the long version of my text as well on: http://www.studyspanish.com/lessons/conditional.htm


  • Feb 26, 2012
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  • Thank you, that's my question... that's actually what I'm using.. I had to pause at that moment, okay "Qué hora será" seems to me as "What time will it be" and what time WOULD it be, sounds acurrately conditional ? - reinosubterr Feb 26, 2012
  • Por ejemplo, si digo algo como.... actually, I have a different question. If I'm speculating on time, it would be future tense always? If not, give me an example please. - reinosubterr Feb 26, 2012
  • If your speculating/wondering (on/about time) the future is only used when talking about things in the present or future. Like "what time could be atm?". For speculations in the past you have to use the conditional. - tombot Feb 26, 2012
  • The example "Juan dijo que terminaría el trabajo." y "Juan dice que terminará el trabajo." is quite good. First is a speculation from the pasts point of view (dijo) and the second of the present (dice). So we use conditional and future respectively. - tombot Feb 26, 2012


Check this link please. It's amazing:


  • Feb 26, 2012
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Hello again, let me explain what I think of the question ¿qué hora sería?. If we look at the construction of this sentence it fits the pattern of a conditional and it should be translated as smettems has said: What time would it be? As a matter of fact, we could say: what time would It be If... or in spanish: ¿que hora sería si...? But there are some cases in spanish which are a little bit strange. For example:

  • No sé qué hora sería cuando Oscar llegó.

This sentence has nothing to do with the definition of a conditional, although the verb has the form of a conditional. If I wanted to translate this sentense then it woud be like this:

  • I don't know what time it could have been when Oscar arrived. (neither is this a conditional)

If you notice there is no condition here, so it is not a conditional. In fact, I think that in spanish we should say:

  • No sé qué hora habrá sido cuando Oscar llegó.

So, if you see, in spanish we use sometimes the verb "ser" in its conditional form to express somethig that is not exactly a consequence of a condition. That is why I think you are confused with the question "¿qué hora sería?" and also that is why I say that smettems is correct in his answers, but your translation is also correct (what time could it have been?) if we take into account that in spanish sometimes we use the conditional to express something that is not a conditional. I have to keep on thinking on this case, i think that it is something that looks exactly as a conditional but is not a condinal at all. I hope you undrstand what I say.

  • Feb 26, 2012
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  • Yeah, the lesson I am on explains that it is used for "probability, possibility, wonder and conjecture. 'El alumno dijo que estudiaría una hora más.' is cut and dry, but "Qué hora sería" lost me a bit. - reinosubterr Feb 26, 2012
  • Could you tell me where is the lesson in wich you saw the example "¿qué hora sería?" as a conditional. I really think that this type of sentences have nothing to do with a conditional and they should be explained from a very different perspective. - MiguelRF Feb 27, 2012


Let me be more specific.

It's simple for me to get when it means "would"

"Yo sabía que abrirían la tienda a las siete." "Sería interesante estudiar chino." "Yo viajaría pero no tengo dinero."

Okay, all simple... but when you go into things like "Qué hora sería" as to means "what time could it have been" (as the guide translated it) (what time could it have been) I don't get exactly how I should know to read it in that context.

But if I say ¿podría decirme a qué hora abre la gasolinera? - it makes perfect sense... it gives me poder and in the conditional form, it's obviously gonna mean "Could you (usted form in that place)"

Do you see better how this confuses now.

  • Feb 26, 2012
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  • to translate what time could it have been into spanish, it would be "¿Qué hora pudiera ser?", with pudiera being the past subjunctive of poder - smettems Feb 26, 2012