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Si clauses, also known as conditionals or conditional sentences, are if-then constructions that express a condition to be met in order for a certain result to occur. The names can be misleading because not all conditionals include a verb in the conditional. This is because the names don’t refer to that verb mood, but rather to the fact each conditional sentence includes a condition, something that the result is dependent upon.
They are divided into three types, depending on whether the condition is likely, unlikely, or impossible. Each type has a specific combination of verb tenses and moods – click for more details.
|Condition is…||Si … (If …)||(Then …)|
|Presente, futuro o imperativo
(Present, future, or imperative)
|Imperfecto del subjuntivo
|Pluscuamperfecto del subjuntivo
|Pluscuamperfecto del subjuntivo o condicional perfecto
(Pluperfect subjunctive or conditional perfect)
1) The verb combinations are very strict. In a conditional sentence, the present tense cannot be paired with the conditional, or the future with the imperfect. So it’s vital to memorize these verb pairings.
2) The word "then" is optional in English, and has no equivalent in Spanish:
|If you’re tired, (then) go to bed.||Si estás cansado, vaya a dormir.|
3) As long as si / "if" stays in front of the correct verb form, the order of the clauses in all three types of conditionals can be reversed with absolutely no change in meaning.
|Go to bed if you’re tired.||Vaya a dormir si estás cansado.|
Test: Si clauses
- Present tense
- Future tense
- Imperfect subjunctive
- Pluperfect subjunctive
- Conditional perfect
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