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How to express “hope”: Italian grammar lesson 163

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To practice this grammar topic, take lesson


of the audio course “Ripeti con me!”

Sperare in the past

As you might know, sperare in Italian means “to hope”. If you want to learn how to express hope in the past in Italian, first of all, you need to know we use the imperfetto (imperfect tense). 

Here’s the conjugation of the verb sperare in the imperfetto:

Io speravo – I hoped

Tu speravi – You hoped

Lui/Lei sperava – He/She hoped

Noi speravamo – We hoped

Voi speravate – You hoped

Loro speravano – They hoped

Speravo + che + past conditional

hope 2

We usually hope in the present that something will happen in the future. It’s exactly the same thing in the past: we hoped in the past that something would have happened in the future. These two ideas (phrases) are linked by the word “che” (= that), as you can see in the examples below: 

  • Speravo + che + sarebbe venuta alla festa.
    I hoped + that + she would have come to the party.
  • Loro speravano + che + avrebbe comprato qualcosa.
    They hoped + that + he would have bought something.

Obviously, you can combine two phrases depending on what exactly you want to say. 

You might have noticed that we need the past conditional (condizionale passato) in the second phrase which indicates the future in the past. 

Past conditional with avere

pexels photo 1050244

Now let’s look at the conjugation of the past conditional with the auxiliary verb avere:

Io avrei comprato – I would have bought

Tu avresti comprato – You would have bought

Lui/Lei avrebbe comprato – He/She would have bought

Noi avremmo comprato – We would have bought

Voi avreste comprato – You would have bought

Loro avrebbero comprato – They would have bought

Past conditional with essere


Here’s the conjugation with the auxiliary verb essere. Make sure you pay attention to how the verb agrees with the subject in terms of gender (feminine or masculine) and number (plural or singular) at the end of each past participle: venuto/venuta/venuti/venute):

Io sarei venuto/a – I would have come

Tu saresti venuto/a – You would have come

Lui/Lei sarebbe venuto/a – He/She would have come

Noi saremmo venuti/e – We would have come

Voi sareste venuti/e – You would have come

Loro sarebbero venuti/e -They would have come



Now let’s have a look at some more examples:

  • Io speravo che lei sarebbe venuta.
    I hoped she would have come.
  • Lei sperava che la sua amica le avrebbe comprato un regalo.
    She hoped her friend would have bought her a present.
  • Noi speravamo che voi sareste andati in vacanza.
    We hoped you would have gone on holiday.
  • I miei genitori speravano che io avrei telefonato.
    My parents hoped I would have called.

So, basically we link the main verb “to hope” in the imperfect tense and what was hoped (using the past conditional) with the word che.

To practice How to express “hope”: Italian grammar lesson 163, take lesson

of the audio course “Ripeti con me!”

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