The Present Conditional in Italian: How To Use It
The conditional is a verb form that is the equivalent of the English pattern ” would + any verb”, when it’s used to express a wish or possibility. In other words, the conditional is used to express what you would do if, ask something politely, make requests seem less assertive, or make suggestions in a way that is more polite.
- Viaggerei di più se avessi più tempo libero – I would travel more if I had more free time
- Al posto tuo, cambierei lavoro – In your place, I would change jobs
- Dovresti studiare di più – You should study more
Italian vs. English
While in English the conditional form is expressed by two entities (the auxiliary “would” + verb), the same idea is expressed by only one word in Italian.
- I would do → Farei
- We would travel → Viaggeremmo
- They would go → Andrebbero
- I would be → Sarei
The regular conjugation of the present conditional
|"ARE" verbs||"ERE" verbs||"IRE" verbs|
The irregular conjugation of the present conditional
andare, andr - ei, esti, ebbe, emmo, este, ebbero
essere, sar - ei, esti, ebbe, emmo, este, ebbero
vedere, vedr- ei, esti, ebbe, emmo, este, ebbero
avere, avr - ei, esti, ebbe, emmo, este, ebbero
dovere, dovr - ei, esti, ebbe, emmo, este, ebbero
fare, far - ei, esti, ebbe, emmo, este, ebbero
sapere, sapr - ei, esti, ebbe, emmo, este, ebbero
rimanere, rimar - ei, esti, ebbe, emmo, este, ebbero
bere, berr- ei, esti, ebbe, emmo, este, ebbero
volere, vorr- ei, esti, ebbe, emmo, este, ebbero
One of the most frequent errors I observe in my classes is that students automatically translate the simple form “would” using the verb vorrei. However, the translation of vorrei is “I would like,” not “would.” Vorrei is the only conditional form of the verb “volere.”
- Vorrei → I would like
- Vorrei viaggiare → I would like to travel
- Viaggierei → I would travel
Vorrei, Potrei, Dovrei: 3 very important conditional forms
There are verbs whose conditional forms are very common, which are the conditional forms of the modal verbs volere, potere, and dovere.
The conditional form of volere is
Vorrei, vorresti, vorrebbe, vorremmo, vorreste, vorrebbero
This is a verb that is translated as “I would like, you would like, etc.” or “I wish, you wish, etc..“
It’s also a form to use when we want to make an invitation.
- Vorresti venire a cena domani? – Would you like to come to dinner tomorrow?
- Vorreste fare un viaggio in Africa con noi? – Would you like to travel to Africa with us?
The conditional form of potere is
Potrei, potresti, potrebbe, potremmo, potreste, potrebbero
This verb is translated as ” I could” or “I would be able“
This form of the conditional is especially used to ask something politely or make a request less assertive.
- Potreste ripetere? – Could you repeat?
- Potresti mandarmi un’ email? – Could you send me an email?
The conditional of dovere, which is
Dovrei, dovresti, dovrebbe, dovremmo, dovreste, dovrebbero
This verb corresponds to the English “I should, you should, etc.” and it’s used especially to give suggestions.
- Dovresti dormire di più – You should sleep more
- Non dovresti mangiare così tanti dolci – You shouldn’t eat so many sweets
All of these verbs are followed by infinitive verbs (non conjugated verbs).
The present conditional in an “if clause”
The present conditional in also used in the “if clauses” together with the subjunctive forms.
- Se avessi più tempo, studierei di più – If I had more time, I would study more
- Se vivessi al mare, ci andrei tutti i giorni – If I lived by the sea, I would go there every day
Short Stories in Easy Italian with Slow Italian Audio
Do you enjoy learning new Italian words or idioms? It is best to do so using simplified Italian texts and short stories. Stories will provide you with a visual to relate to new words or idioms, making it easier to retain new information.
November 23, 2021 @ 5:22 pm
I have come across ‘va bevuto’ which my Italian friends tell me can be translated as ‘should be drunk’. How come andare + a past participle = a conditional???
November 29, 2021 @ 8:37 am
“va bevuto” should be translated into “MUST BE DRUNK” – andare + past participle does not entail a “conditional action”, but an obligation.