The use of the conditional tense in the below sentence seems strange to me and I can't find out why it's being used:

Hoy Miguel se despertó temprano y comío su desayuno con sus padres y sus hermanos. Mientras sus hermanos tambien se irían a estudiar y sus padres irían a trabajar, hoy Miguel iría a su primer día de clases.

Why is the conditional tense used here? It's strange from an English standpoint, but is this a common way of saying things in Spanish?

  • Where is the sentence from? I’d expect the pretérito perfecto with ‘hoy’.
    – Traveller
    Aug 22, 2019 at 18:05
  • The text comes a kindle book of short stories I found on Amazon. It’s a book for learning Spanish.
    – jwdwsn
    Aug 22, 2019 at 18:26
  • 1
    It is a way of writing that it's not common in the spoken language. Think of it as if you say: While he would go to his first day of school, his brothers would go to study and his parents would go to work as well. The thing is that there's have to be agreement between "iría" and "irían". You could also use "future" and replace iría=irá and irían=irán
    – DGaleano
    Aug 22, 2019 at 18:49
  • That makes a lot of sense, DGaleano. I think it was just kind of an odd tense given the context of the paragraph.
    – jwdwsn
    Aug 22, 2019 at 19:32
  • It sounds terrible, even if it's not wrong. The first two conditionals should be indicative imperfect (iban). I understand the rationale for the conditional as future-of-the-past but I doubt any native speaker would utter such a thing.
    – pablodf76
    Aug 23, 2019 at 1:07

1 Answer 1


The conditional is the future of the past. It means that, relative to the current past time frame, the action will occur at some point in the future.

The important thing is that it does not shift the time frame forward to that time. Thus, if your sentences were written with the past tense as one of the commenters suggested, then the next action would come after Miguel and his brothers going to school and his parents going to work.

But more likely than not, the next sentence is something like, Miguel se duchó y se vistió con su nueva camiseta. Notice then the order of action:

Wake up → breakfast → shower → dress → go to school / work

Nonetheless, the narrative order is

Wake up → breakfast → [will] go to school / work → [but first] shower → dress

Another commentor mentions they might use the future. That would also work: the factor involved is (1) in the present time frame, have they already gone? If so, must use conditional. And (2) if in the present time frame, are they still eventually going to go? If so, use future, but if something got cancelled and we know that they will definitely not, use conditional.

Also, whenever conditional is used as a future-of-the-past, you can replace it with ir a [verb] and it should make much clearer sense for non-natives:

Hoy Miguel se despertó temprano y comío su desayuno con sus padres y sus hermanos. Mientras sus hermanos tambien se iban a ir a estudiar y sus padres se iban a ir a trabajar, hoy Miguel iba a ir a su primer día de clases.

The double use of ir is probably why the author opted for iría. If you use other base verbs it sounds a bit better.

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