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Italian if clause – type 2

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What are “if clauses”?

Do you know what “if clauses” are?

If not, here are some examples in English for you to understand better:

  • If you cry, you feel better afterward.
  • If it rains, I won’t go out.
  • If you studied, you would pass your exam.
  • If you had listened to me, you would have done the right thing.

As you can see, we have 4 “if clauses” in English. We always have a condition (the “if” clause) and the potential result (the other clause).

We could say we’re talking about hypotheses.

That’s why in Italian we call it periodo ipotetico (literally, “hypothetical period”).

Italian if clause type 2

What’s the periodo ipotetico?

In Italian, we use the periodo ipotetico all the time.

There are 3 types:

  • Type 1 – reality
  • Type 2 – possibility
  • Type 3 – impossibility

Try to guess why we call them like that.

In today’s lesson, we’re going to focus on the Italian “if clause” – type 2: the one about a possibility.

Here’s an example:

Se avessi tanti soldi, andrei dappertutto.

If I had money, I would go everywhere.

Se veniste con noi, vi divertireste.

If you came with us, you would have fun.

Italian periodo ipotetico with the imperfect subjunctive

Italian if clause – type 2

We use this type of “if clause” – the one about a possibility – to express a possible hypothesis, something that could happen in the future, but can also not happen.

Basically, if it happened, it could have a certain consequence.

Remember it’s all about a condition and a consequence.

In this case, the consequence is possible but not 100% certain.

Its English equivalent is pretty similar.

Let’s have a look at some more examples:

Se venissi qui, andremmo in montagna.

If you came here, we would go to the mountain.

Se mi dicessi quello che pensi, ti direi quello che penso io.

If you told me what you think, I would tell you what I think.

Italian periodo ipotetico with the congiuntivo imperfetto

Italian if clause – type 2: structure

Let’s now focus on the structure of the Italian “if clause” – type 2.

In the case of a possible hypothesis, we use the congiuntivo imperfetto (imperfect subjunctive) in the clause expressing the condition (the one starting with “se”) and the present conditional in the clause expressing the consequence.

So, this is the structure:

  • se + imperfect subjunctive + present conditional

If you don’t remember or if you just don’t know how to form the imperfect subjunctive or/and present conditional, keep reading the next two sections.

If you don’t need to review this, you can skip to the section with examples.

Italian if clause with the congiuntivo imperfetto

Italian if clause – type 2: imperfect subjunctive

We use the imperfect subjunctive to formulate a hypothesis. That’s why we need it in this type of construction.

In order to form the imperfect subjunctive in Italian, you have to remove -ARE, -ERE, and -IRE from the infinitive (the base form of the verb) and add the correct endings, which are in bold in the table below.

You’ll notice the recurrence of the doubles“. This will help you learn their conjugation.

parlARE credERE partIRE
io parlassi credessi partissi
tu parlassi credessi partissi
lui/lei parlasse credesse partisse
noi parlassimo credessimo partissimo
voi parlaste credeste partiste
loro parlassero vedessero partissero

There are some verbs that are irregular in the imperfect subjunctive.

Here’s the conjugation of the most common ones:

  • dare: io dessi, tu dessi, lui/lei dessi, noi dessimo, voi deste, loro dessero
  • dire: io dicessi, tu dicessi, lui/lei dicesse, noi dicessimo, voi diceste, loro dicessero
  • essere: io fossi, tu fossi, lui/lei fosse, noi fossimo, voi foste, loro fossero
  • fare: io facessi, tu facessi, lui/lei facesse, noi facessimo, voi faceste, loro facessero
  • stare: io stessi, tu stessi, lui/lei stesse, noi stessimo, voi steste, loro stessero

Italian periodo ipotetico possibility

Italian if clause – type 2: present conditional

We use the present conditional to express a possible outcome. That’s why we use it together with the clause introducing the condition.

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:

io -ei
tu -esti
lui/lei -ebbe
noi -emmo
voi -este
loro -ebbero
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Let’s have a look at some conjugated verbs:

parlARE credERE partIRE
io parlerei crederei partirei
tu parleresti crederesti partiresti
lui/lei parlerebbe crederebbe partirebbe
noi parleremmo crederemmo partiremmo
voi parlereste credereste partireste
loro parlerebbero crederebbero partirebbero

There are some irregular verbs, of course.

We’ll just give you the first conjugation. You can conjugate the rest on your own by just adding the endings we saw above:

  • Andare (to go): andrei
  • Bere (to drink): berrei
  • Dovere (to have to): dovrei
  • Potere (to be able to): potrei
  • Rimanere (to stay): rimarrei
  • Sapere (to know): saprei
  • Vedere (to see): vedrei
  • Vivere (to live): vivrei
  • Volere (to want): vorrei

Italian if clause with the imperfect subjunctive

Practice with Quizlet

Here's a set of flashcards and quizzes to practice this grammar topic.

Italian if clause – type 2: examples

Let’s now see some examples with conditions and possible outcomes:

Se potessi, verrei a trovarti.

If I could, I would come to see you.

Se facessi sport, saresti in forma.

If you did some sport, you would be in shape.

Se avessi delle uova, farei una torta.

If I had eggs, I would make a cake.

Se non piovesse, andrei al mare.

If it didn’t rain, I would go to the beach.

La tua macchina sarebbe più bella, se la lavassi.

Your car would be nicer if you washed it.

Se cercassi lavoro, lo troveresti.

If you looked for a job, you would find it.

If clause in Italian possibility

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