An introduction to the Italian present conditional
Try to guess where this phrase is from:
“Salutarsi è una pena così dolce che ti direi addio fino a domani.”
It’s the translation of the following phrase:
“Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow.”
Well… it’s a quote in one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays: Romeo and Juliet.
The verb “direi” in the Italian translation of Shakespeare’s quote is the condizionale presente (present conditional form) of “dire” (to say). We could translate it as “would say”.
In fact, the present conditional tense in Italian is the equivalent of the English construction of “would” + verb (for instance: I would leave).
Italian present conditional: when to use it
In Italian grammar, we use the conditional tense in the following cases:
- to express a desire or a purpose
Vorrei comprare un gelato ma non ho abbastanza soldi.
I would like to buy ice cream, but I haven’t got enough money.
- to say or to ask something kindly;
Mi potrebbe portare un bottiglia di acqua, per favore?
Could you please bring me a bottle of water, please?
- to express doubt and uncertainty;
Cosa faresti tu?
What would you do?
- to refer to an action that is possible or likely, and that depends on a particular condition.
Dormirei tutto il giorno se non dovessi studiare.
I would sleep all day if I didn’t have to study.
How to say should and could in Italian?
Have a look at the following sentences:
A: I should go home.
B: Could I come with you?
We could say those two sentences in Italian using the Italian conditional to say “should” or “could”, as in the translation below:
A: Dovrei andare a casa.
B: Potrei venire con te?
As you can see, we simply use the conjugated forms of dovere (must) and potere (can) in the present conditional, followed by a verb in the infinitive (ending in -are, -ere, -ire).
Italian present conditional: conjugation
Forming the present conditional in Italian is quite easy.
Take any verb, drop the final -e in its infinitive form, and add the following endings:
Just so you know, endings are the same for all three conjugation groups of verbs.
Italian present conditional: regular verbs
Let’s now have a look at the conjugation of three regular verbs: parlare, credere, and sentire.
Keep in mind the endings we saw above and you will see it all makes sense.
As you will see, the only spelling change occurs with -are verbs, which change the “a” of the infinitive ending to “e”: instead of saying parlarei (which is incorrect), we say parelerei.
Example with parlare (to talk)
|Io parlerei||I would talk|
|Tu parleresti||You would talk|
|Lui/lei parlerebbe||He/she would talk|
|Noi parleremmo||We would talk|
|Voi parlereste||You would talk|
|Loro parlerebbero||They would talk|
Example with credere (to think)
|Io crederei||I would think|
|Tu crederesti||You would think|
|Lui/lei crederebbe||He/she would think|
|Noi crederemmo||We would think|
|Voi credereste||You would think|
|Loro crederebbero||They would think|
Example with sentire (to feel)
|Io sentirei||I would feel|
|Tu sentiresti||You would feel|
|Lui/lei sentirebbe||He/she would feel|
|Noi sentiremmo||We would feel|
|Voi sentireste||You would feel|
|Loro sentirebbero||They would feel|
Italian present conditional: irregular verbs
For irregular verbs, we’ll just give you the root of the verb in the present conditional, that is what comes before the endings of the present conditional.
We’ll just give you the first one and you can do the rest on your own adding the endings we saw above.
For andare, the root of the present conditional is andr-, so you just add -ei, -esti, -ebbe, -ebbero, -este, and -ebbero.
|Io andrei||I would go|
|Tu andresti||You would go|
|Lui/lei andrebbe||He/she would go|
|Noi andremmo||We would go|
|Voi andreste||You would go|
|Loro andrebbero||They would go|
Here are the roots of the other irregular verbs:
As you can see, for some of them we just eliminate the “e” that’s before the “r”.
We recommend reading more about Italian verb tenses.
Practice with QuizletHere's a set of flashcards and quizzes to practice this grammar topic.
Italian present conditional: examples
Here are some examples with the present conditional:
Parlerei con mia sorella, ma sono stanco.
I would talk to my sister, but I’m tired.
Vorrei una pizza, per piacere.
I would like a pizza, please.
Mi daresti la tua matita?
Would you give me your pencil?
Non saprei cosa dirgli.
I wouldn’t know what to tell him.
Andrei dappertutto se potessi.
I would go everywhere if I could.