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The Spanish "Second Conditional": A Simple Hypothetical Formula

What would you do if you won the lottery? Spanish uses a type of conditional sentence known as the segunda condicional (second conditional) to describe these types of scenarios, which is formed with a simple formula that we will cover today. 

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The Second Conditional in Spanish

There are many different types of Spanish conditionals, or conditional sentences. These are sentences that describe the result "if" a certain condition were in place. They are formed with a conditional si, or "if" clause, plus a main clause, and are classified according to the likelihood of the hypothetical situation. The second conditional typically focuses on scenarios that are unlikely or hypothetical, but can also be used to make an utterance extra polite

 

The Spanish Second Conditional Formula

Let's take a look at the formula for the second conditional in Spanish:

 

Si + imperfect subjunctive verb + conditional verb 

 

If you need to learn or review these tenses or how to conjugate them, we recommend these lessons on the Spanish imperfect subjunctive tense, which describes the unlikely or hypothetical action, and the Spanish conditional tense which conveys the action(s) that "would" happen if some other condition "were" in place.

 

Examples of the Spanish Second Conditional 

Let's take a look at several examples of the Spanish second conditional and some situations in which it could be employed. We'll start with some sentences that describe very unlikely situations:

 

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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Si tuvieras que morir, no podrías dejarme aquí

If you had to die, you couldn't leave me here

Caption 8, La Gusana Ciega No Me Tientes

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Si pudiera bajarte una estrella del cielo Lo haría sin pensarlo dos veces

If I could lower you down a star from the sky I'd do it without thinking twice 

Captions 5-6, Enrique Iglesias Cuando me enamoro

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Now, let's take a look at some situations that are hypothetical but less outlandish, including the equivalent for the common English expression, "if I were you":
 

Y si tuvieras hijos, ¿te gustaría que practicaran el surf también?

And if you had kids, would you like them to surf as well?

Captions 63-64, El Aula Azul Un día de surf

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Si tuviera que definirla en una sola palabra, sería amor.

If I had to define her in just one word, it would be love.

Caption 22, Fermín y los gatos Mi gata Poeska

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Bueno, si yo fuera tú, hablaría con él. 

Well, if I were you, I would speak with him.

Caption 24, El Aula Azul La Doctora Consejos: Subjuntivo y condicional

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And finally, let's see an example where the second conditional is used in a likely scenario for the sake of politeness:

 

Pues, si pudiera venir a la oficina mañana a las nueve, la ubicaríamos en su puesto enseguida. 

Well, if you could come to the office tomorrow at nine, we would get you acquainted with your position right away.

Captions 28-29, Negocios Empezar en un nuevo trabajo - Part 1

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Note that while the first conditional si puede venir a la oficina mañana a las nueve, la ubicaremos en su puesto enseguida (if you can come to the office tomorrow at nine, we will get you acquainted with your position right away) could also have been used in this situation, the second conditional in Spanish is sometimes chosen to infuse a sentence with extra formality. 

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Reversing the Formula

In some cases, the order of the imperfect subjunctive and the conditional verbs can be flipped. Let's take a look at a couple of examples:

 

Pero, por eso, estamos imaginando qué pasaría si nos tocara la lotería,

But that's why we're imagining what would happen if we won the lottery,

Captions 34-35, Clase Aula Azul La segunda condicional - Part 2

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¿Qué harías si te encontraras un sobre con cincuenta mil euros?

What would you do if you found an envelope with fifty thousand euros?

Caption 19, El Aula Azul La Doctora Consejos: La segunda condicional

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That's all for today. We hope that this lesson has helped you to understand a very common formula for talking about hypothetical situations in Spanish. For further information on this topic, we recommend this entertaining video entitled La Doctora Consejos: La segunda condicional (Doctor Advice: The Second Conditional) by El Aula Azul, or this more in-depth lesson called La Segunda Condicional by Clase El Aula Azul. And as always... don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments

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Talking About Yourself and Getting to Know Others in Spanish

Now that you've learned how to introduce yourself in Spanish, let's go over some basic questions and answers when telling others about ourselves or asking about them. 

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Where are you from?

Asking someone where they are from might be a common introductory question when getting to know someone. Let's take a look at both the (informal "you") and usted (formal "you") forms of this question: 

 

O, ¿de dónde eres? ¿De dónde es?

Or, where are you from? [with "tú"]. Where are you from? [with "usted"].

Captions 13-14, Karla e Isabel Tú y Usted

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And, what if someone asks you this question? You might use the construction Yo soy de (I'm from) to say the city, country, etc. you come from. Let's see some examples:

 

Yo soy de San Fernando, Cádiz.

I am from San Fernando, Cádiz.

Caption 27, 75 minutos Del campo a la mesa - Part 21

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Yo soy de Argentina, de la provincia de Córdoba, eh... exactamente de un pueblito que se llama Río Ceballos,

I'm from Argentina, from the province of Córdoba, um... precisely from a little town called Río Ceballos;

Captions 8-9, Luana y Fede Viajes

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Alternatively, you might say your nationality, particularly when talking about yourself in a foreign country: 

 

Yo soy argentina.

I'm Argentine.

Caption 53, Carlos y Cyndy Uso del Voseo en Argentina

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soy español,

I'm Spanish,

Caption 2, Madrid Un recorrido por la capital de España

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To learn more about how to talk about nationalities in Spanish, check out this lesson on Adjectives of Nationality in Spanish. Let's explore some additional common questions/answers when getting acquainted with someone in Spanish. 

 

What do you do?

Another is common question you might ask or get asked is, "What do you do (for a living)"? Let's explore a few ways to ask this question:

 

Bueno, perdón. ¿Tú a qué te dedicas?

Well, sorry. What do you do?

Caption 48, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 5 - Part 9

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¿En qué trabajas tú, Inmaculada?

In what [field] do you work, Inmaculada?

Caption 31, 75 minutos Gangas para ricos - Part 12

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The usted versions would be "¿Usted a qué se dedica?" and "¿En qué trabaja usted?" Another possible way to ask this question is:

 

¿Cuál es tu/su trabajo?

What's your job? 

 

Now, let's look at some possible responses.

 

Me dedico a vender la leche.

I sell milk for a living.

Caption 2, Milkman Milk Seller, Nicaragua

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Yo trabajo en una tienda de ropa de segunda mano... -Ah...

I work at a second hand clothing store... -Oh...

Caption 69, 75 minutos Gangas para ricos - Part 14

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No, yo soy azafata.

No, I'm a flight attendant.

Caption 49, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 5 - Part 9

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Note that when talking about your profession in Spanish, the appropriate verb is ser ("to be" for fixed characteristics) rather than estar ("to be" for more temporary states) and that, in Spanish, unlike English, you don't include the article. For that reason, the aforementioned example reads soy azafata rather than soy una azafata

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How old are you?

The ways to say "How old are you?" in Spanish are "¿Cuántos años tienes?" when using  and "¿Cuántos años tiene?" with addressing someone with usted. Let's hear the tú version in action:

 

¿Tú cuántos años tienes, Mariano?

How old are you, Mariano?

Caption 69, 75 minutos Del campo a la mesa - Part 6

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To answer this question, we use the verb tener años, which literally means "to have years," inserting the correct number of years between these two words. This is the Spanish equivalent of "being (a certain number) of years old." Let's take a look:

 

Tengo dieciséis años.

I'm sixteen years old.

Caption 7, Cleer Entrevista a Lila

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If you'd like to learn or refresh your Spanish numbers, check out the lesson The Numbers from One to One Hundred in Spanish.  

 

Are you married?

In this caption, you will hear both the question and answer to this question.

 

¿Y eres casado o soltero? Estoy casado con una mujer italiana de Nápoles.

And are you married or singleI'm married to an Italian woman from Naples.

Captions 8-9, Carlos y Xavi Part 2 Ustedes y Vosotros

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You might notice that in the example above, the first speaker uses the verb ser, saying "¿Y eres casado...?" instead of "¿Y estás casado?" while the second speaker uses the verb estar to answer. Although the adjective casado/a (married) is traditionally used with the verb estar, you might hear it used with ser in some Spanish-speaking regions. For more on the nuances of these two verbs, check out Ser vs. Estar- Yo Soy and Ser vs. Estar- Yo Estoy

 

Do you have kids/brothers and sisters?

We ask both of these questions with the Spanish verb tener (to have), which is conjugated as tiene with usted and tienes with . Let's hear how to ask these two questions with

 

¿Tienes hijos? -No.

Do you have children? -No.

Caption 87, Adícora, Venezuela El tatuaje de Rosana

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¿Tienes hermanos o hermanas? 

Do you have brothers or sisters?

Caption 5, Carlos y Xavi Part 2 Ustedes y Vosotros

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It is worth noting that, as the plural masculine noun los hermanos could refer to either just "brothers" or to both "brothers and sisters" or "siblings," you could simply say "¿Tienes hermanos?" when asking if someone has brothers and/or sisters. Similarly, los hijos could specifically mean "sons" or include both male and female "children." The singular and plural feminine nouns la(s) hermana(s) and la(s) hijas, on the other hand, refer to specifically female "sister(s)" and "daughter(s)." With that in mind, let's look at some potential answers to these questions:

 

Yo tengo dos hijos pequeños y...

I have two small children, and...

Caption 66, El Aula Azul Un día de surf

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Y, bueno, eh... tengo una hija de ocho años, ya sabéis. 

And, well, um... I have an eight-year-old daughter, you already know.

Caption 26, Clase Aula Azul La segunda condicional - Part 1

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Sí, tengo una hermana más pequeña que tiene tres años menos.

Yes, I have a younger sister who is three years younger.

Caption 6, Carlos y Xavi Part 2 Ustedes y Vosotros

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Let's move on to our last common question when getting to know someone in Spanish. 

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What do you like to do in your free time?

Here are some possible ways to broach the topic of what people like to do when they aren't working. 

 

¿qué te gusta hacer?

what do you like to do?

Caption 24, Cleer Entrevista a Lila

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¿Qué cosas te gusta hacer en tu tiempo libre?

What do you like to do in your free time?

Caption 15, El Aula Azul Los profesores de la escuela - Part 1

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Or, you could simply say: "¿Qué te gusta hacer en tu tiempo libre?" A good formula for answering what you like to do is to say (a mí) me gusta (I like) or (a mí) me encanta (I love) plus a verb in the infinitive. Let's see some examples: 

 

Me gusta salir a rumbear...

I like to go out dancing...

Caption 15, Zoraida Lo que gusta hacer

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Pues, me gusta escuchar música, eh... pintar, y me gusta viajar mucho.

Well, I like to listen to music, um... paint, and I like to travel a lot.

Captions 25-26, Cleer Entrevista a Lila

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y me encanta ir a la playa con mis amigos.

and I love going to the beach with my friends.

Caption 39, Clara y Cristina Saludar

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We hope that this lesson has helped you learn some basic questions/answers for getting to know someone and telling them about yourself. Can you think of any other preliminary question you would like to learn to ask or answer in Spanish? Feel free to let us know with your suggestions and comments

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