Conjugation & verb forms of the present conditional simple

(Formation of the conditional mood in English)

Formation of the present conditional simple

The present conditional simple is formed by combining the modal auxiliary verbwould’ with the infinitive form of the corresponding verb. Even if it is commonly used in the if-clause type 2, it often appears in other contexts too. Compare these example sentences and the forms in the table below:

  • Example sentences of forming the present conditional simple:
    • Would you like some ice cream?”
      • use as a polite question
    • “We would travel to South America, but we cannot afford it.”
      • expression of a wish

Particularities of the formation of the present conditional simple

Many of the modal auxiliary verbs cannot form a conditional and, therefore, need to be replaced by a substitute form in the present conditional simple. Some examples of such verb forms are:

  • can’ becomes ‘could’ or ‘be able to’ (‘would can’ is not possible):
    • “If I sold my old car, I could buy a new one.”
    • “He would be able to understand it if he listened more carefully.”
  • must’ becomes ‘have to’ (‘would must’ is not possible):
    • “I would have to talk to the police if he did it.”
    • “You would have to follow the rules if you wanted to stay.”
  • may’ becomes ‘might’ or ‘be allowed to’ (‘would may’ is not possible):
    • “I might help you if you told me the truth.”
    • “You would be allowed to get in if you had permission.”

Verb forms of the present conditional simple

Example verb: ‘to speak

Positive/affirmative sentences

Person/pronoun Positive Short form Interrogative form Short form of question
I He would speak. He’d speak. Would he speak?
you (singular)
he/she/it
we/you/they

Negative sentences

Person/pronoun Negative Short form Interrogative form Short form of question
I She would not speak. She wouldn’t speak.
or
She’d not speak.*
Would she not speak? Wouldn’t she speak?
you (singular)
he/she/it
we/you/they

* This form is not as common as the other one.

Further explanations related to the ‘Formation of the present conditional simple’

The following explanations relate to the topic ‘Conjugation & verb forms of the present conditional simple’ and may be helpful for you too: