Would, Could, Should

Would, Could, Should in Spanish

Conditional Tense

  • The Spanish equivalent for would is most often expressed in the conditional tense. The conditional tense for regular verbs is formed by adding the following endings to the infinitive: -ía, -ías, -ía, -íamos, -íais, -ían.

  • For instance, the verb “comer” (to eat) in the conditional is “comería, comerías, comería, comeríamos, comeríais, comerían” (I would eat, you would eat, he/she/it would eat, we would eat, you all would eat, they would eat).

  • The equivalents for could and should are expressed through the modal verbs “poder” and “deber” respectively.

  • “Poder” is conjugated in the conditional to express “could”, while “deber” is used in the present followed by an infinitive to say “should”.

  • For example, “podría” means “I could”, and “debes estudiar” means “you should study”.

Irregular Verbs in the Conditional

  • Be aware that there are many irregular verbs in the conditional, which are also common in the future tense.

  • Some common examples include: tener (would have), venir (would come), decir (would say), hacer (would do/make), poder (could), salir (would leave), and poner (would put).

Using “deber” to Express Obligation

  • “Deber” can also be used to express obligation or expectation.

  • In the present tense, it’s equivalent to “must” or “have to”, and in the past, it can express “ought to have” or “should have”.

  • For example, “debo irme” (I must go), “debiste llamar” (you should have called).

Polite Requests with “podría”

  • “Podría” can also be used to make polite requests. It is the conditional form of “poder” and can be translated to “could” in English.

  • For instance, “¿Podrías pasarme la sal?” (Could you pass me the salt?)

Remember to Practice!

  • Being confident with these forms is a matter of practice.

  • Regular practice will help to reinforce these patterns and make using them in conversation natural and instinctive.