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“Si clauses”

Think of the show “Fiddler on the Roof”.  Close your eyes and think about the song Tevia sings in the barn- “If I were a rich man”.  What would he do?  What if you were a rich person?  What would you do?  Just for fun, answer this using the fantasy tense (conditional) -{infinitive + ía}.  Write tres sentences, starting each with “Si yo fuera rico[a]”, finished with a conditional phrase.


What form is fuera?

"Si clauses".  This is a topic that often confuses American students, but it is ironically the one instance in English in which the subjunctive mood is used; so you would think that it would be easier to comprehend. I believe the trouble we have with it is that it requires you to often fill-in sentences with specific forms of verbs, kind of like filling in a mathematical equation in a physics class.  You first have to analyze- figure out what is missing, what exists, what is needed; and then synthesize-  you have to come up with the correct mood, tense and form for that particular verb.  Why is it important?  Two reasons:  First it is an invaluable tool for communicating ideas on a complex level.  What will you do if...?  What would you do if….?  What would have happened if…?  Secondly, it is used frequently on tests – AP, SAT II, College Placement and probably your teacher’s, too.  Bear with it and do the activities with the intent of learning (not just getting the activities completed).  In the end you should be able to fill-in sentences with the correct form of the verb; and you should also be able to construct your own meaningful sentences using “si” clauses.  Como te deseo siempre- buena suerte.

"The equation"

These are “If……, (then) …..” sentences.  The “if” is the “si” or dependent clause.  The “then” clause is the main clause.


If (si) Clause
Main Clause
These Conditions Might Exist  
Present Indicative
  • Si tengo el dinero,...
  • If I have the money,...
[Maybe I have the money, I'll check.]
Future Tense, possibly present or imperative, implying future
  • ...iré.  (voy.)
  • ...I will go.  (I am going.)
[What I will do]
Contrary to Fact Clauses:  These situations do (did) not exist.  Subjunctive will be necessary!  
Imperfect Subjunctive 
  • Si tuviera (tuviese) el dinero,...
  • If I had the money,...
[I do not have the money.]
Conditional Tense (or "RA" form of imperfect subjunctive- use the conditional for consistency)
  • ...iría. (...fuera.)
  • ...I would go.
[What I would do- if I did have it]
Pluperfect Subjunctive
  • Si hubiera (hubiese) tenido el dinero,...
  • If I had had the money,...
[I did not have the money.]
Conditional Perfect (or "RA" pluperfect subjunctive)
  • ...habría ido.  (...hubiera ido.)
  • I would have gone.
[What I would have done- if I had had it.]

A ver unas oraciones completas para compararlas.  Traduce en tu mente las frases mientras las leas.


"Not the way it is" "Not the way it was"

Do you see how it is just like English?

¡Vamos a practicar un poco!

I.  "Mights".  Complete each of these sentences with a grammatically correct future tense phrase.  Also, so that you begin to reinforce what you are writing, translate the entire sentence into English.

II.  Not the way it is.  Each of the statements express the way things are not.  However, you are to invent and create possibilities that tell what would happen if things were different.  Change the phrase to state the opposite- Si.....+ imperfect subjunctive(opposite of statement), and follow this with what would happen- conditional tense phrase.

ejemplo:  Hay clases hoy.Si no hubiera clases hoy, dormiría hasta el mediodía y vería la tele por seis horas antes de la cena.

Now try some personal ones.  Complete each sentence with an appropriate phrase, then do as you did above- make a "If I...., I would..." sentence.

ejemplo: No soy....(alto):>  Pero si fuera alto, jugaría al baloncesto.

III. Not the way it was. Do as you did above, but now we are working in the past, so you will be using pluperfect subjunctive and conditional perfect.  Escoge 5 frases, por favor.
  Let's get personal again.  Think of all the things in your life which if they were done differently, there would have been dramatic changes in your life.  Try to think of 5 and express them in Spanish.  If I had... [or had not- or even someone else had or had not...] (pluperfect subjunctive)....., something would have happened (conditional perfect- habría + past participle).


IV. Now let's do some sentence completions, which are test-like.  You have to analyze the sentences, and fill-in the blank based on the chart above.

“Si” clause fill-ins. Determine the mood, tense and form of the verb in the si clause based on the verb in the main clause.

· Si yo (poder), viajaría a México.

· Si ellos (tener) el tiempo, habrían leído todos los capítulos.

· Si las chicas (saber) los detalles, se los contarán a sus padres.

· Si no (ducharme) hoy, ellos no me habrían hablado.

· Si tú (estar) aquí después de las clases, te llevaré a casa.

· Si nosotros (cantar), todos saldrían inmediatamente.

· Nuestros padres se enojarían si ellos (saber) la verdad.

· Dígame si ella te (llamar).

Main clause fill-ins.  Determine the tense of the verb in the main clause based on the verb in the “si” clause.

· Si podemos, te (llamar) en cuanto lleguemos.

· Si fuera posible, yo (traer) una botella de agua a la clase.

· Si ellos no hubieran ganado, el entrenador los (castigar).

· Ana no (saber) la verdad si no se la cuentas.

· Si los ricos hubieran dado más dinero a los pobres, nunca (ocurrir) una guerra civil.


Como si
This one should be pretty easy if you got the "si" clauses.  You used the imperfect subjunctive or pluperfect subjunctive in a si clause when the statement was contrary to fact- not the way it is or was, ¿no?  Well, "como si" (=as if) implies contrary to fact, so the imperfect or pluperfect subjunctive must be used after it- always.  No exceptions.  You just have to look at the tense of the main clause to determine the tense (we know the mood is subjunctive, ¿verdad?).
Main clause...... como si......
Present tense
  • Actúa 
  • He acts 
  • Está corriendo
  • He is running
Imperfect Subjunctive, or Pluperfect Subjunctive
  • como si fuera animal
  • as if he were an animal.
  • como si hubiera visto un fantasma.
  • as if he saw a ghost.
Past Tense
  • Corrió
  • He ran
Pluperfect Subjunctive
  • como si hubiera visto un fantasma. 
  • as if he had seen a ghost.

Now ¡Vamos a ser creadores!

Imagine you got to class today and everyone is acting really weird.  Perhaps a lot of imaginación is not necessary.  Fill-in names in the first blank, and get creative with how you complete the como si clause.  Escoge 7.

Para practicar más fantasías, haz clic aquí.


pudiera, hubieran tenido, saben, me hubiera duchado, estás, cantáramos, supieran,  llama

llamaremos, traería,  habrían castigado, sabrá, habría ocurrido