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Spanish Si Clauses: How to Use and Form Conditional "If" Clauses

Do you want to know how to form 'if clauses' in Spanish? The first thing you need to know is that the word "si" is the Spanish term we use for the English word "if". So, from now on, think of 'si clauses' as 'if clauses'. Let's dive into some of the grammar rules and different uses that define 'si clauses' in Spanish.

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The two parts of a conditional sentence with a 'si clause'

We use 'si clauses' when we want to form conditional sentences. In fact, all conditional sentences in Spanish have the following two parts:

 

1. The condition, expressed (in a subordinate or dependant clause) with the conditional "si" (the actual si clause/if clause), and

2. The main clause, which is the sentence that tells us what the result or consequence will be if the condition expressed by the si clause occurs.

 

Let's see an example:

Si llueve, nos mojamos.

If it rains, we get wet.

Caption 47, Ana Carolina Condicionales

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In we take this example, we can easily see the two parts of that conditional sentence:

1. The condition with the si clause: Si llueve (If it rains)

2. The result clause: nos mojamos (we get wet)

 

When to use conditional 'si clauses' in Spanish

Just like with 'if clauses' in English, we use 'si clauses' in Spanish to talk about possibilities. Moreover, in Spanish, we have three different kinds of conditional sentences.

 

1. Conditional sentences with a likely result

We use these sentences to express things that are very likely to happen. In other words, if the condition occurs, the result will also occur. Let's see an example:

Si trabajas, tendrás dinero.

If you work, you'll have money.

Caption 56, Ana Carolina Condicionales

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2. Conditional sentences with an unlikely result

We use this kind of 'si clauses' when the speaker has serious doubts about the condition and its potential result. Let's see an example:

Si me tocara la lotería, viajaría por todo el mundo, y me alojaría en los hoteles más lujosos.

If I won the lottery, I'd travel around the whole world, and I'd stay at the most luxurious hotels.

Captions 26-27, El Aula Azul La Doctora Consejos: La segunda condicional

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3. Conditional sentences with an impossible result

Finally, we use these conditional sentences when we talk about a condition in the past that didn't occur, which means that it is impossible for the result to happen. Let's see an example:

Si hubiera estado sobrio, no me hubiera animado,

If I had been sober, I wouldn't have dared,

Caption 5, Yago 12 Fianza - Part 1

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The grammar behind conditional sentences with 'si clauses'

Now that we know the three main types of 'if clauses' in Spanish, let's see how to form each one of these types of conditional clauses.

 

1. Conditional sentences with a likely result

Condition: Si + present indicative

Result: present indicative OR future OR imperative

 

Let's look at an example:

Si sales, regresa temprano.

If you go out, come back early.

Caption 61, Ana Carolina Condicionales

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Notice that the result is expressed using the imperative form regresa (come back).

 

2. Conditional sentences with an unlikely result

Condition: Si + past (imperfect) subjunctive

Result: Simple conditional

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Let's see the following example:

Si me encontrara un sobre con cincuenta mil euros, lo cogería, claro. Y me compraría un coche descapotable.

If I found an envelope with fifty thousand euros, I'd take it, of course. And I'd buy a convertible car.

Captions 21-23, El Aula Azul La Doctora Consejos: La segunda condicional

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Notice that in this caption the result is expressed with the conditional forms cogería (I'd take it) and compraría (I'd buy).

 

3. Conditional sentences with an impossible result

Condition: Si + pluperfect subjunctive

Result: Past conditional

 

Let's see an example:

Si hubiera leído más, habría terminado el libro

If I had read more, I would have finished the book.

 

However, sometimes when the result clause refers to something that is still valid in the present, you can use the simple conditional instead of the past conditional. Let's see an example:

 

Es una pena; si hubiéramos firmado el contrato la semana pasada, todo seguiría igual.

It's a shame; If we had signed the contract last week, everything would stay the same.

Captions 22-23, Negocios Problemas laborales - Part 2

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Furthermore, in spoken Spanish it is common to use the pluperfect subjunctive in the result clause just like in the example we previously mentioned:

 

Si hubiera estado sobrio, no me hubiera animado,

If I had been sober, I wouldn't have dared,

Caption 5, Yago 12 Fianza - Part 1

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That's it for today. Are you ready to write some 'si clauses' in Spanish? We encourage you to write a couple of sentences for each one of the three types of conditional sentences we have covered in this lesson. And don't forget to send us your comments and questions

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