IF Clauses “Si” (“if”) is an adverbial conjunction, but it’s different from all other adverbial conjunctions. It NEVER gets the PRESENT subjuntive: Juan siempre almuerza si tiene tiempo. Juan va a almorzar si tiene tiempo. In these sentences, the present INDICATIVE follows “si.” The present subjunctive never does. However, the IMPERFECT subjunctive frequently does follow “si.” Some “si” clauses are called “contrary to fact” clauses: If it were raining (but it’s not), we would leave. If I were you (but I’m not), I would study more. If I had a million dollars (but I don’t), I’d buy a Ferrari. All of these “if” clauses are contrary to fact, and you use the imperfect subjunctive in them: Si lloviera, saldríamos. Si yo fuera tú, estudiaría más. Si tuviera un millón de dólares, compraría un Ferrari. Look carefully at the verbs in these sentences from the previous page: Si lloviera, saldríamos. Si yo fuera tú, estudiaría más. Si tuviera un millón de dólares, compraría un Ferrari. In all three sentences, the verb after “si” is in the imperfect subjunctive, and the main verb is conditional. Those two tenses are MARRIED. If you have imperfect subjunctive in the “si” clause, you HAVE to have the conditional in the main clause. If you have the conditional in the main clause, you HAVE to have the imperfect subjunctive in the “si” clause. If you have one, you have to have the other. If you don’t have one, you can’t have the other. So what if it’s NOT a contrary-to-fact clause, you may ask. Well, then you use the indicative in whatever tense makes sense: Si _________ (salir) ahora, llegarás a tiempo. If you ________ now, you’ll arrive on time. What tense makes sense, in both English and Spanish? Si sales ahora, llegarás a tiempo. If you leave now, you’ll arrive on time. OK, another one: Si ________ (ir) a la escuela, comieron perritos calientes. If they ___________ to school, they ate hot dogs. Si fueron a la escuela, comieron perritos calientes. If they went to school, they ate hot dogs. (Context: I don’t know if my niece and nephew went to school today, so I don’t know what they had for lunch. The school served hot dogs, so if they went to school, I know they ate hot dogs.) So there are only two really big rules with if clauses: Conditional in the main clause and imperfect subjunctive in the if clause are MARRIED. Otherwise, use whatever tense makes sense, and that tense will be in the indicative. Click here to go to your homework.