In today’s short lesson, we’re going to learn something very important and common in Italian: if clauses with se. You might be wondering what we’re talking about. Well, an “if clause” is a phrase that indicates a condition and is usually followed by a phrase that refers to a consequence. There are many different types of “if clauses”. For now, we’re only going to focus on the easiest ones: the ones that refer to realistic hypotheses. Before we go into detail in Italian, let’s have a look at some “if clauses” in English.
- If it rains, people don’t go to the beach.
- If you heat ice, it melts.
- If you talk to me like that, I won’t come.
- If we get there late, we’ll miss the train.
As you can see, the “if clause” indicates the condition, the other clause refers to the consequence.
If clauses with se
In Italian, instead of “if” we use the short word se. If you spot this tiny word, you’ll know people are talking about a hypothetical situation. As we said, we’re going to focus on realistic hypotheses. There are four different combinations. We’ll first look at the structures and we’ll then give you examples for you to understand.
1. Se + present indicative + present indicative
2. Se + present indicative + future indicative
3. Se + future indicative + future indicative
4. Se + present tense + imperative
We use these four combinations to talk about something that’s either happening in the present, or that will surely happen soon/has a high chance of happening. It’s up to you to choose which one you’ll use, depending on what you’re referring to.
We’re going to go in order, so make sure you check what we just explained.
1. Se non capisci, te lo spiego.
If you don’t understand, I explain it to you.
2. Se non studio, non passerò l’esame.
If I don’t study, I won’t pass the exam.
3. Se non verrà, non le parlerò piu.
If she doesn’t come, I won’t speak to her again.
4. Se vai al supermercato, comprami la pasta.
If you go to the supermarket, buy me some pasta.
Se is often used together with altrimenti (else, otherwise).