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The Italian Conditional Mood: a Guide to the Condizionale Presente

present condizionale

One of the four finite moods in Italian, the conditional refers to hypothetical events. The Italian present conditional tense (condizionale presente) expresses what would happen under certain conditions, and roughly corresponds to “would” in English. 

Would you like to master the condizionale presente and express yourself in a more fluid and flexible way? Here is your guide. Let’s start!

Using the condizionale presente

In Italian, the condizionale presente is used to:

  • make a wish or express desires:

L’estate prossima andrei volentieri in vacanza in Sicilia – Next summer I would gladly go to Sicily on holiday 

Nicola vorrebbe tanto rivederti – Nicola would like to see you again
  • express opinions, ask questions and give advice or recommendations without sounding too direct:

Se fossi in te, chiederei subito scusa a Nadia – If I were you, I would immediately apologize to Nadia

Penso che dovremmo prenderci una pausa – I think we should take a break
  • make very polite requests or offers:

Potresti abbassare il volume, per favore? –  Could you please turn down the volume? 

Gradireste del caffè? – Would you like some coffee?
  • criticize or disapprove something:

Mattia dovrebbe studiare di più se non vuole essere bocciato di nuovo – Mattia should study more if he doesn’t want to repeat the year again

  • express a doubt:

Non so se andrei di nuovo in quell’albergo – I don’t know if I would go to that hotel again

  • discuss probability:

Domani potrebbe arrivare un’altra ondata di caldo, le temperature sono in aumento – Another heatwave could start tomorrow, temperatures are rising

  • pose hypothetical questions:

Cosa faresti al posto mio? – What would you do if you were in my place?

  • report something you are not 100% sure about, or that you have doubts about:

Secondo alcuni testimoni, i rapinatori sarebbero quattro – According to some witnesses, the thieves were four

As you can see, the Italian present conditional tense can be used both in main clauses and subordinate clauses.

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The hypothetical period

The Italian present conditional is used with the imperfect subjunctive (congiuntivo imperfetto) to express hypothesis in the hypothetical period (periodo ipotetico). 

The hypothetical phrase is made of two clauses. The subordinate clause is introduced by se (if) and expresses a condition, whereas the main clause expresses a consequence. You can use this lovely construction to set up all kinds of situations, imagine what could be and talk about something that might happen under certain conditions.

Have a look at some examples:

Se avessi tempo, andrei in palestra ogni giorno – If I had time, I would go to the gym every day (but I don’t have time, so I don’t)

Se fossi ricco come il Sultano del Brunei, comprerei anche io 300 Ferrari e 600 Rolls-Royce –  If I was as rich as the Sultan of Brunei, I would buy 300 Ferraris and 600 Rolls-Royces too (but I’m not rich, so I can’t)

Investirei in Bitcoin se offrisse buone prospettive di guadagno – I would invest in Bitcoin if it offered significant advantage (but it doesn’t, so I don’t)

The subordinate clause can also be introduced by:

  • nel caso in cui (in the event that, in case):

Nel caso in cui non poteste avere figli, valutereste l’adozione? – If you could not have children, would you consider adoption?

  • purché (as long as, provided that):

Andrei volentieri a vedere la partita, purché non ci siano scontri tra le tifoserie – I would gladly go and see the match, as long as there are no fights between supporters of the two clubs

  • qualora (if, in case):

Qualora ti venisse offerto un lavoro in Finlandia, cosa faresti? – What would you do if you were offered a job in Finland?

Remember that in this case, se/qualora/nel caso in cui/purché always stick with the imperfect subjunctive. Don’t use them before the conditional.

How to form the condizionale presente

The condizionale presente is easy to construct in Italian. You just have to remove the verb’s ending and add the appropriate conditional ending. 

To make the present conditional of regular verbs ending in -are and -ere, take the stem and add the following conditional endings:
  • -erei for “I”
  • -eresti for “you”
  • -erebbe for “he”/ “she” / “it”
  • -eremmo for “we”
  • -ereste for “y’all”
  • -erebbero for “they”

Cantare (to sing)

Io cantereiI would sing
Tu canterestiYou would sing
Lui/lei canterebbeHe/she/it would sing
Noi canteremmoWe would sing
Voi canteresteY’all would sing
Loro canterebberoThey would sing

Vendere (to sell)

Io vendereiI would sell
Tu venderestiYou would sell
Lui/lei venderebbeHe/she/it would sell
Noi venderemmoWe would sell
Voi venderesteY’all would sell
Loro venderebberoThey would sell

As you can see, the condizionale presente has the same endings for verbs that belong to both the -are and -ere conjugation, just like with the futuro semplice.

To make the present conditional of regular verbs ending in -ire, take the stem and add the following endings: 

  • -irei for “I”
  • -iresti for “you”
  • -irebbe for “he”/ “she” / “it”
  • -iremmo for “we”
  • -ireste for “y’all”
  • -irebbero for “they”

Dormire (to sleep)

Io dormireiI would sleep
Tu dormirestiYou would sleep
Lui/lei dormirebbeHe/she/it would sleep
Noi dormiremmoWe would sleep
Voi dormiresteY’all would sleep
Loro dormirebberoThey would sleep

Not so bad, right? This works with all regular verbs.

Irregular verbs in the present conditional

The condizionale presente has the same irregular verbs as the futuro semplice

Both essere (to be) and avere (to have) are irregular in the present conditional. Their conjugations are as follows:

Essere (to be)

Io sareiI would be
Tu sarestiYou would be
Lui/lei sarebbeHe/she/it would be
Noi saremmoWe would be
Voi saresteY’all would be
Loro sarebberoThey would be

Avere (to have)

Io avreiI would have
Tu avrestiYou would have
Lui/lei avrebbeHe/she/it would have
Noi avremmoWe would have
Voi avresteThey would have
Loro avrebberoThey would have

As with the futuro semplice, verbs ending in -care and -gare have a change in spelling when conjugated. 

Verbs ending in -care, like cercare (to look for), praticare (to practice), spaccare (to break) and elencare (to list), add an “h” after the “c,” to preserve the /k/ sound of the infinitive.

Cercare (to search)

Io cercherei 

Tu cercheresti 

Lui/lei cercherebbe 

Noi cercheremmo 

Voi cerchereste 

Loro cercherebbero 

Verbs ending in -gare, like litigare (to argue), pagare (to pay), negare (to deny), spiegare (to explain) and pregare (to pray), add an “h” after the “g,” in order to preserve the hard sound of the infinitive. 

Pagare (to pay)

Io pagherei 

Tu pagheresti 

Lui/lei pagherebbe 

Noi pagheremmo 

Voi paghereste 

Loro pagherebbero 

Verbs ending in -giare and -ciare, like parcheggiare (to park), danneggiare (to damage, to ruin), mangiare (to eat), rinunciare (to renounce), cominciare (to begin), cacciare (to hunt), intralciare (to hinder) and baciare (to kiss), drop the letter “i” before adding the conditional endings. 

Parcheggiare (to park)

Io parcheggerei 

Tu parcheggeresti 

Lui/lei parcheggerebbe 

Noi parcheggeremmo 

Voi parcheggereste 

Loro parcheggerebbero 

Cominciare (to begin) 

Io comincerei 

Tu cominceresti 

Lui/lei comincerebbe 

Noi cominceremmo 

Voi comincereste 

Loro comincerebbero

Here are some additional groups of irregular verbs in the condizionale presente.

  1. 1
    In first group, the “a” in -are and the “e” in -ere gets eliminated.

Dovere (to have to, to must)

Io dovrei -




I should
Tu dovrestiYou should
Lui/lei dovrebbeHe/she/it should
Noi dovremmoWe should
Voi dovresteY’all should
Loro dovrebberoThey should

Potere (to can, to be able to)

Io potreiI could
Tu potrestiYou could
Lui/lei potrebbeHe/she/it could
Noi potremmoWe could
Voi potresteY’all could
Loro potrebberoThey could

Sapere (to know)

Io saprei 

Tu sapresti 

Lui/lei saprebbe 

Noi sapremmo 

Voi sapreste 

Loro saprebbero 

Andare (to go) 

Io andrei 

Tu andresti 

Lui/lei andrebbe 

Noi andremmo 

Voi andreste 

Loro andrebbero 

Cadere (to fall)

Io cadrei 

Tu cadresti 

Lui/lei cadrebbe 

Noi cadremmo 

Voi cadreste 

Loro cadrebbero 

Vedere (to see)

Io vedrei 

Tu vedresti 

Lui/lei vedrebbe 

Noi vedremmo 

Voi vedreste 

Loro vedrebbero 

Vivere (to live)

Io vivrei 

Tu vivresti 

Lui/lei vivrebbe 

Noi vivremmo 

Voi vivreste 

Loro vivrebbero

     2. The second group takes a double “r.”

Volere (to want)
Io vorreiI would like
Tu vorrestiYou would like
Lui/lei vorrebbeHe/she/it would like
Noi vorremmoWe would like
Voi vorresteY’all would like
Loro vorrebberoThey would like
Tenere (to keep)

Io terrei 

Tu terresti 

Lui/lei terrebbe 

Noi terremmo

Voi terreste

Loro terrebbero

Venire (to come)

Io verrei 

Tu verresti

Lui/lei verrebbe

Noi verremmo

Voi verreste

Loro verrebbero

Bere (to drink)

Io berrei

Tu berresti

Lui/lei berrebbe

Noi berremmo

Voi berreste

Loro berrebbero

Rimanere (to remain)
Io rimarrei

Tu rimarresti

Lui/lei rimarrebbe

Noi rimarremmo

Voi rimarreste

Loro rimarrebbero

Produrre (to produce)

Io produrrei 

Tu produrresti 

Lui/lei produrrebbe 

Noi produrremmo

Voi produrreste

Loro produrrebbero

Remember that all verbs that end in -durre, like tradurre (to translate), dedurre (to deduce), condurre (to drive), indurre (to induce), introdurre (to introduce) and riprodurre (to reproduce), behave in the same way.

     3. Dare (to give), fare (to do) and stare (to stay) add the ending to the infinitive:

Dare (to give)

Io darei

Tu daresti

Lui/lei darebbe

Noi daremmo

Voi dareste

Loro darebbero

Fare (to do)

Io farei

Tu faresti

Lui/lei farebbe

Noi faremmo

Voi fareste

Loro farebbero

Stare (to stay)

Io starei

Tu staresti

Lui/lei starebbe

Noi staremmo

Voi stareste

Loro starebbero

How to translate the condizionale presente into English 

As mentioned previously, the Italian present conditional tense is usually translated into English with “would” plus a verb.

Se Roberto mi chiedesse di uscire, sarei felicissima – If Roberto asked me out, I would be very happy 

Ci parlerei io direttamente, ma non ho più il suo numero –  I’d talk to him directly, but I no longer have his number

However, it is wrong to think of the Italian condizionale presente as a direct translation of “would” and its myriad of uses. As you know, there is not always an exact one-to-one correspondence between how tenses are used in English and Italian. Unlike in English, the Italian condizionale presente is not used to express habits in the past. The imperfetto is to be used for that:

I would go to work each day by bus – Andavo al lavoro in autobus ogni giorno

The present conditional along with the verb dovere (to have to, to must) can be translated as:
  • “Should”

Dovresti studiare di più – You should study more

  • “Ought to”

Dovresti ascoltare con attenzione – You ought to listen carefully

  • “To be supposed to”

Cosa dovrei fare? – What am I supposed to do?

The present conditional along with the verb potere (to can, to be able to) can be translated as:

  • “Could”

Scusa, potresti chiudere la porta? – Excuse me, could you please close the door?

  • “May/might”

Non spegnere il telefono stasera, Deborah potrebbe aver bisogno di chiamarti – Don’t switch off your phone tonight, Deborah may need to call you

The present conditional along with the verb volere (to want) can be translated as:
  • “Would like”

Vorrei proprio rivedere Ocean’s Eleven / Mi piacerebbe rivedere Ocean’s Eleven – I really would like to see Ocean’s Eleven again

Both “vorrei” and “mi piacerebbe” can be used to say what you would like to do.

To sum up...

  • The condizionale presente is used to talk about events that would happen under certain conditions.

Se avessi più tempo libero, farei volontariato al canile – If I had more free time, I would volunteer in dog shelters

  • It is used to make polite requests.

Mi accompagneresti alla stazione domani, per favore? – Would you please come to the train station with me tomorrow?

  • It is used to give advice and express opinions in a less direct way:

Se fossi in te, non mi fiderei di Danilo - If I were you, I wouldn’t trust Danilo

Practice as much as you can until you get the hang of it. The more you expose yourself to Italian and use the condizionale presente, the more this and other grammatical structures will become a part of you. A presto!

 FUN AND EFFECTIVE WAY TO LEARN ITALIAN

  • 10 entertaining short stories about everyday themes
  • Practice reading and listening with 90+ minutes of audio 
  • Learn 1,000+ new Italian vocabulary effortlessly!

About the Author Jessica Maggi

Jessica is a native Italian speaker, a passionate linguist and a proud Grammar nerd. She has a lifelong passion for English and studied Linguistic and Cultural Mediation at the University of Milan. She currently works as a freelance translator and copywriter.

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