If I wanted to say in Spanish,

Sometimes I would have dreamed of living somewhere else.

Would I say:

  1. A veces habría soñado con vivir en otro lugar cualquiera.
  2. Había soñado con vivir en otro lugar cualquiera.

Are they interchangeable, or is there a subtle difference?

I thought the conditional would be more suited to my meaning rather than the imperfect sounding more like "I had dreamed".

I have read previous posts but failed to find an answer.

I want to have standard-sounding Spanish, as for writing a letter in Spain.

  • 1
    I would have to say that I find the would have construction rather unnatural in English but it may work better in Spanish, I cannot say.
    – mdewey
    Jan 2, 2021 at 17:02
  • @mdewey I think that is because would have is used to talk about something that did not happen in the past learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/english-grammar-reference/…, which seems the opposite of what the OP is trying to convey here i.e. they did dream of living elsewhere
    – Traveller
    Jan 3, 2021 at 9:04

1 Answer 1


In Spanish, what we would more naturally say is:

  • A veces me habría gustado vivir en cualquier otro lugar.

  • A veces me hubiera gustado vivir en cualquier otro lugar.

The conditional perfect and the subjunctive past perfect are usually interchangeable to refer to a past hypothetical situation (the dream did not come true).

We would only use the verb "soñar" to refer to the moment when you dreamed of something, not to express a wish that did not materialize, at least in the mentioned tenses.

  • A veces soñé con vivir en otro lugar. (Sometimes I dreamt of living somewhere else.)

  • De chico soñaba con vivir en otro lugar. (As a child I would dream of living somewhere else.)

You would only use the indicative past perfect to refer to a real anterior past, for example:

  • Siempre había soñado con vivir en otro lugar y, cuando lo logré, no lo podía creer. (I had always dreamt of living somewhere else and, when I did, I couldn't believe it.)
  • Thank you. Great answer and plenty to think about. It can be a little annoying how things do not neatly and easily transfer from 1 language to another. I suppose it keeps it interesting !
    – Bluelion7
    Jan 2, 2021 at 19:37

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