Conditional Clauses

Introduction

Conditional clauses are introduced by se in Esperanto. They express that an action or event will only take place under certain conditions.

There are two types of conditional clauses in Esperanto. Real conditionals take place in the present/future and unreal conditionals are not fulfilled in the present/future or were’t fulfilled in the past.

Beispiel

Patrino: “Tim, posttagmeze mi volas baki kukon. Ĉu vi helpos min?”

Filo: “Se posttagmeze mi havos tempon, mi volonte helpos vin.

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Patrino: “Tim, mi nun bakas kukon. Ĉu vi volas helpi min?”

Filo: “Se mi havus tempon, mi volonte helpus vin. Sed mi devas fari miajn hejmtaskojn.”

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Patrino: “Nun la kuko estas bakita. Kial vi ne helpis min?”

Filo: “Se mi havintus tempon, mi volonte helpintus vin. Sed mi devis fari miajn hejmtaskojn.”

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Usage and Construction

Real Conditionals

In normal cases

Real conditionals usually express that we are not 100 % sure whether or not an action will take place but there is a real possibilty that the action can be fulfilled (as in our example - perhaps I’ll have time in the afternoon).

The condition and its result are in the future, so we use both verbs in the future tense (os).

Example:
Se posttagmeze mi havos tempon, mi volonte helpos vin.If I have time this afternoon, I’ll help you willingly.

Exceptions

  • Sometimes, it’s possible for a condition to be fulfilled at the moment of speaking and be followed by an action in the future. Here, we put the conditional verb in the present (as) and the result in the future (os).
    Example:
    Se la patrino ankoraŭ bakas, ni vizitos la familion poste.If the mother is baking a cake now, we’ll visit the family later.
  • It’s possible that the condition has already been fulfilled and the result will take place in the future. In this case we put the condition in the past (is) and the result in the future (os).
    Example:
    Se mia patrino bakis, ni manĝos kukon vespere.If my mother has baked, we’ll eat cake tonight.
  • We can also use an imperative (u) in the main clause.
    Example:
    Se la patrino bakas kukon, helpu ŝin.If the mother bakes a cake, help her!

Unreal Conditionals

Unreal conditionals express what we would do or would have done under different conditions/in a diffferent situation.

  • If the condition and result are in the present/future, we use the conditional verb mood (us) in Esperanto.
    Example:
    Se mi havus tempon, mi volonte helpus vin.If I had time, I would help you.
  • If the condition and the result are in the past, we use either estus + active participle (as an adjective) or the short form (verb + intus).
    Example:
    Se mi estus havinta tempon, mi volonte estus helpinta vin.If I’d had time, I would have helped you.
    Se mi havintus tempon, mi volonte helpintus vin.If I’d had time, I would have helped you.