If you had to say which mood is used in the bolded part of this sentence, what would be your guess? Well, you may have guessed just from reading the title that this is an example of the conditional mood, used to talk about hypothetical situations that are conditional or dependent on something else. In European Portuguese, it’s called condicional Play slow audio Play normal audio conditional (or futuro do pretérito in Brazil) and it’s a single-tense mood.
Forming Conditional Conjugations
The conditional in Portuguese is a very easy mood to conjugate. All you need to do is take the infinitive form of a verb and add the following endings:
|Ele, ela, você||-ia|
|Eles, elas, vocês||-iam|
And you’re in luck — there are only three irregular verbs in the conditional!:
dizer Play slow audio Play normal audio to say fazer Play slow audio Play normal audio to do trazer Play slow audio Play normal audio to bring
For these three verbs, before adding the endings above, you first need to replace the final –zer with –r, which leaves you with the roots dir-, far– and trar-. As an example, this is how the verb dizer would be conjugated in the conditional:
For every verb other than dizer, fazer, and trazer, the infinitive remains unchanged before adding the endings, even for verbs that are highly irregular in all other moods, such as ser Play slow audio Play normal audio to be:
Using the Conditional in Sentences
The main challenge when using the conditional is really the rest of the sentence! It can be challenging to properly construct full sentences because the conditional often needs to be combined with other, more complicated moods/tenses, such as the imperfect subjunctive and the personal infinitive. You can’t fully master the conditional without decent knowledge of other verb forms. Let’s look at a few examples to give you some familiarity with how the conditional is used in sentences.
Using the conditional to discuss hypothetical situations
Se eu fosse rico, eu não trabalharia. Play slow audio Play normal audio If I were rich, I would not work. Fosse is an imperfect subjunctive (pretérito imperfeito do conjuntivo) form of ser Play slow audio Play normal audio to be and helps establish the condition under which the second part of the sentence holds true.
Para teres tempo, tu terias de cancelar alguns compromissos. Play slow audio Play normal audio For you to have time, you would have to cancel some commitments. Teres is one of the personal infinitive (infinitivo pessoal) forms of ter Play slow audio Play normal audio to have.
Ninguém adivinharia a sua idade! Play slow audio Play normal audio No one would guess your age! This sentence is trickier because, rather than being added to the sentence, the condition is merely implied. No one would guess this person’s age if they tried or if they saw them.
Other variations of the conditional
The conditional can also be used in sentences that are set in a past time, but describe a future event. This helps explain why it can also be called futuro do pretérito (future of the past).
Eu não acreditava que tu virias. Play slow audio Play normal audio I didn't believe that you would come.
Ele disse que mudaria o seu comportamento. Play slow audio Play normal audio He said that he would change his behaviour.
The conditional can also be expressed without using it at all! In European Portuguese, it’s accepted in casual speech to replace the conditional by the imperfect past (pretérito imperfeito do indicativo), with no change in meaning.
Se eu pudesse, faria tudo outra vez. Play slow audio Play normal audio If I could, I would do everything again. = Se eu pudesse, fazia tudo outra vez. Play slow audio Play normal audio If I could, I would do everything again.