Conditional Tense

In English we tend to use ‘‘would like’’ a lot.

So ‘‘I would like to go’’ is ‘‘Byddwn i’n hoffi mynd’’ if I nearly understand correctly,
and ‘‘he would like to go’’ would be likewise ‘’ Byddai fo’n hoffi mynd’’.

The other day I said ‘‘Hoffwn i gael te’’ which seemed to go down well with my friend.

However, when I said ‘‘Hoffai fo gael te’’ this didn’t register as well and it was suggested i use instead > ‘‘Byddai fo’n hoffi gael te’’.

Can you advise me how the conditional tense is used in Welsh conversation in North Wales.



S’mae Justin?

In the SSiW Northern courses, we have tended to use liciwn i - “I would like” - and bydda’ fo’n licio - “he would like”. We have also used the following for some constructs:

mi faswn i - I would
mi faset ti - you would
mi fasa’ fo/hi - he/she would

I will leave it to someone else to advise on what gets used most often, but I suspect it depends upon circumstances, local usage and personal preferences.



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Thanks Stu - I think I am getting a better sense of the alternatives. One nagging uncertainty remains ( and maybe it reflects the difference between spoken and written Welsh).

bydda’ f’on licio versus byddai fo’n licio (or are they the same??)

My ‘‘Welsh Learner’s Dictionary’’ seems to be favouring ‘‘byddai f’on licio’’

Do you have a view on this?



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They are the same Justin, with the version I used just reflecting the spoken a bit more I guess. In the South, I have seen people write it as bydde fe’n. This is not something you should worry about though, just variations.



Hi Justin - sounds like youa re doing really well - using your Welsh in the wild, and getting a lot of it “approved” is a a great result. Some people might see it as a “step along the way”, but in fact, this is the destination - speaking Welsh with people in real life is what we are trying to help you achieve, so da iawn!

On the matter of alternatives, there are some alternatives that are totally acceptable, there are some that are not quite as acceptable, and some that might be frowned upon. Unfortunately, the exact items in each list will vary from area to area and from speaker to speaker, so realy don;t worry that someone thinks you should say something in a different way. You’ll soon adapt to what you hear around you, and maybe even start to disagree with some of the patterns you hear on SSiW. But the important thing is that if you always use what we teach you, and never adapt to the local colour, you won;t be wrong, and you will always be understood. So, don;t worry - you are going through the growing pains of a competent second language speaker adapting to cultural subtleties - that is a massive achievement.

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I’m wondering if there is a sort of unwritten rule that the short forms are most often used in the first (and maybe 2nd) person, and less so in the 3rd person? Just speculating.

Hello Lestyn,

I grew up in Wales and after about 20 years there as a youth accumulated a sum total of about 10 words of Welsh. Had you asked me then if I were capable of speaking Welsh I would have confidently replied no. Now as a retiree living in Italy, having discovered SSiW I am able to communicate in Welsh after less than 6 months of courses and support from SSiW.

So SSiW is doing something rather remarkable. Wales needs SSiW in its schools and especially in those that are predominantly English oriented. Had I been exposed to SSiW in school, it would have been ‘‘job done’’ a long time ago.

With much appreciation to you, Aran and your team and the SSiW Forum,



That makes sense to me - because when I use the short form of the conditional in the third person my Welsh friend is not saying it’s definitely wrong, just that it doesn’t sound right.

So you may have discovered a good practical approach.

Diolch yn fawr,


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It’ll need to be fine-tuned a bit further from this eventually, because there are cases when the third person would be fine - but the key here is to be aware that you’re discussing the kind of fine point that would give you a headache in English (imagine trying to explain to someone when they should use ‘must’ and when they should use ‘have to’!).

That’s why it’s easier not to take a rules-based approach to this, but just nod your head and carry on, and let your brain take over the pattern recognition stuff (because left to its own devices, it’s very, very good at it) :sunny:

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Agreed 100%!!

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Yeah I’ve found myself wondering whether SSIW would work in schools. Both my kids have been educated in Wales and both achieved excellent Welsh ‘second language’ GCSE grades. However neither can use the language ! - That can’t be right and certainly doesn’t help sustain the language.

I know I’m a grumpy sod but…


No your not! The education system has miserably failed…I met someone on a Bootcamp once he had some piece of paper from the Open University in Gymraeg - Couldn’t actually speak anything though.


Well, I think there are at least two aspects to this.

  1. If faced with a class of 30+ teenagers, not all of whom want to be there in the first place, it’s probably a lot easier to “teach” them a reading and writing based course, than a speaking- and listening-oriented approach that doesn’t go near the written word for at least a year or so.
    Conversational language - the sort of thing SSi does so well - is wonderfully “untidy”. it’s all over the place. It doesn’t behave itself like classroom teachers would probably like it to.

  2. But let’s say there is a place for the teaching of reading and writing of a non-first-language, and e.g. reading and commenting on the literature of that language. For people already well equipped, it’s a great thing to be able to do.

But consider English first-language speakers doing English language and literature GCSEs. Now they mastered English conversation literally years before they ever started studying it as a formal subject. They already knew the language thoroughly inside out. then it was just a question of adding the extra vocabulary and, say, analytical thinking, and appreciation of literary qualities, etc

Now take the same English first-language speaker doing a Welsh (or French, or Spanish, or German) GCSE. Unless they are very lucky, they are not going to have anything like the competence in the spoken language, and yet are expected to read it and write it sensibly. They are struggling with one hand tied behind their back.

I believe that some gifted teachers do somehow succeed in this system in spite of the odds, but I suspect most do not, and it is probably not really their fault.


I wonder if it really has to be so difficult. Let’s say there are 24 students split into 12 conversational pairs that rotate.

The teacher’s role and objective is to guide them into being able ask natural questions about who they are, where they live, what they do, what they are interested in, what they plan to do in their summer holidays etc. etc letting the subjects of conversation evolve gradually to expand their breadth of subject and vocabulary. They can even make up false identities for fun and roll-play to add interest to their conversations.

The important point is that they should frequently be in a conversational setting in the classroom and participating ALL THE TIME (instead of watching others role-play for most of the time as with most conventional classes)


Well, the last time I had any direct contact with the state school sector, class sizes were 30+, and I believe since then, birth rates have risen (I think the powers that be actually closed schools, during the period when birthrates were falling, short-sighted people that they were).

Let’s say there are 30 students split into 15 conversational pairs during a 60 minute lesson.
If only one pair speaks at a time, that’s 4 minutes per pair, or 2 minutes per person.

If more than one pair speak at once, then they’d get more time, but unless there are additional teachers or “assistantes” around to keep an ear on them, they won’t be getting the guidance needed.

If all pairs are participating all the time, then I presume that means 15 people speaking at once, which could be diifficult to cope with and not easy for good guidance to be given (I know how bad it can be even in a much smaller class of adult learners … admittedly young ears can probably cope with background babble better than middle-aged or old ears).

If you are talking about the private sector with more resources to lavish, then that’s a different story, but the vast majority of school students are not in that fortunate position.


I think there are potential solutions even if classes are sadly 30+. For example do you think some variation of the following might work in practice:

You have half the class preparing subject matter for their next conversational session ( - perhaps including doing listening excercises per SSi.)

That leaves about 7 pairs who are conversing together all the time. Rotate them every 10 minutes or so including via the teacher who thus gets to check on progress from time to time.If each child who is in a pair gets to speak for half the time - that’s about 20 minutes of real conversation every other lesson and 40 minutes of listening and preparation time every other lesson.

I would think that if a few experienced teachers thought about this for a few hours they could come up with a way of organising the class far better than my ‘‘off the cuff’’ thought on the subject.

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Yes, I think it could be made to work, especially with practical aids such as “language laboratory” type facilities.

Now what happened to those? (see footnote) They were all the rage at one time, but don’t seem so common now.
potentially a good idea, but i wonder if they were used to their best advantage?

Those kind of dedicated facilities, plus a SSi-type conversational approach could work very well together.

But the real breakthrough could only come when teachers could be persuaded not to try to teach beginners to read and write the language before they can speak at least some of it, including all the basic structures.

footnote: I put my question to google and found this:

Well, yes in some ways modern computer technology can do more than language labs could, but the powerful thing that it did was (a) to enable the teacher to eavesdrop on a student in a relatively unobtrusive way and (b) - at least theoreticlly, it could allow pupils to take part in a one-to-one conversation with a fellow-pupil without bothering anyone else (since they are in at least semi-soundproof cubicles) and also have the teacher listen in and help if necessary.

Not sure that would be so easy to organise with just a bunch of iPads or whatever.

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