Bootstrap Russian Grammar

Learn Russian Grammar step-by-step

Russian grammar - The Conditional with если бы

The Conditional with если бы

The combination если бы is used to form hypothetical conditional phrases.

The action in the subjunctive clause cannot take place because the condition in the conditional clause cannot be realised - because the time has passed.

если бы should appear in the conditional clause.

And бы should be in the subjunctive clause.

The aspect of the (past tense) verb in the conditional clause determines whether the phase is in the past tense ('if you had done') or in a general present tense ('if you do').

a perfective aspect means 'if I had done it' - a past hypothetical

an imperfective aspect means 'if I did it' - a present hypothetical

Examples:
Если бы я поела раньше, мы могли бы уйти.
If I had eaten earlier, we could have left.

поесть is perfective so past conditional

Если бы ты умел водить машину, я разрешил бы тебе покататься на моей.
If you could drive a car, I would let you drive mine.

уметь is imperfective so present conditional

Если бы она пришла сегодня вечером, то мы бы поговорили об этом.
If she had come tonight, we would have talked about it.

прийти is perfective so past conditional

Я поехал бы на юг, если бы у меня были деньги.
I would have gone south if I had had money.

поехать is perfective so past conditional

Если бы только у меня было много денег!
If only I had a lot of money!

быть is imperfective so present conditional

Если бы студент готовился к экзаменам, то он сдал бы их без проблем.
If the student prepared for the exams, he would pass them without problems.

готовиться is imperfective so present conditional

Если бы вчера была хорошая погода, мы бы обязательно пошли гулять.
If the weather had been nice yesterday, we would definitely have gone for a walk.

быть is imperfective but вчера means it is past conditional.

Если бы ты быстрее работал, ты бы закончил работу вовремя.
If you worked faster, you would finish the work on time.

работать is imperfective so present conditional

Если бы ты слушала меня, всё было бы хорошо!
If you listened to me, everything would be fine!

слушать is imperfective so present conditional

Если бы ты сказал мне раньше об этом, мы бы не сделали ошибки!
If you had told me about this earlier, we would not have made a mistake!

сказать is perfective so past conditional

Если было бы так просто!
If only it were that easy!

быть is imperfective so present conditional

Если бы ты пошёл в театр, я бы пошёл с тобой.
If you went to the theatre, I would have gone with you.

прийти is perfective so past conditional

Если бы у меня было достаточно денег, я бы купил машину.
If I had had enough money, I would have bought a car.

быть is imperfective but купить is perfective

Если бы я занималась, то я бы сдала экзамен.
If I studied, I would pass the exam.

заниматься is imperfective so present conditional

Если бы тебе нравился футбол, мы смотрели бы матч вместе.
If you liked football, we would watch the match together.

нравиться is imperfective so present conditional

Если я не был бы болен, я бы пошёл.
If I hadn't been sick, I would have gone.

быть is imperfective so present conditional

Если бы она попросила, я не был бы против этого.
If she had asked, I wouldn't have been against it.

попросить is perfective so past conditional

Если бы вы надели пальто, вам не было бы холодно.
If you had put on a coat, you would not have been cold.

надеть is perfective so past conditional

Если бы она позвонила вчера, я бы знал об этом.
If she had called yesterday, I would have known about it.

позвонить is perfective so past conditional