Present conditional: Italian grammar lesson 160

Summary

Dive into the Italian present conditional with ease! This guide breaks down when and how to use this handy tense, complete with examples and a look at those pesky irregular verbs. 🇮🇹✨

  • Expressing Desires: Use the present conditional to share what you’d like or want, like “Vorrei comprare un gelato” (I would like to buy ice cream). It’s all about those hypotheticals!
  • Politeness Counts: Asking for things nicely in Italian? The present conditional’s your go-to. “Mi potrebbe portare un bottiglia di acqua, per favore?” translates to a courteous request for water.
  • Doubt and Uncertainty: Not sure what to do? The present conditional has your back. “Cosa faresti tu?” means “What would you do?” and shows you’re pondering the possibilities.
  • Conditional Actions: When your actions depend on something else, the present conditional shines. “Dormirei tutto il giorno se non dovessi studiare” is your “I’d sleep all day if I didn’t have to study” mood.
  • Conjugation Basics: Drop the final -e from the infinitive form of a verb, slap on the right endings, and voilà! You’ve got the present conditional down. Remember, it’s the same for all verb groups.
  • Irregular Verbs Alert: Irregular verbs like “andare” (to go) switch things up a bit. Just learn the root (like “andr-” for “andare”) and add the usual endings. A bit of memorization goes a long way!
  • Should/Could in Italian: Wondering how to say “should” or “could”? Easy peasy. Use “dovrei” for “should” and “potrei” for “could,” followed by the infinitive of the verb you’re talking about.
  • -are Verb Twist: When dealing with -are verbs, swap the “a” for an “e” before adding your endings. So instead of “parlarei,” you’ll say “parlerei” (I would talk).
  • Example Sentences: The guide’s chock-full of examples to get you using the present conditional like a pro. “Parlerei con mia sorella, ma sono stanco” (I would talk to my sister, but I’m tired) is just the start.

My thoughts

An introduction to the Italian present conditional

In Italian grammar, we use the present conditional tense for an event that is possible or likely.

Learn more about the Italian present conditional grammar with these examples.

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 is morrow.”

Still, thinking?

Well… it’s a quote from 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 of “dire” (to say). We could translate it as “would say”.

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 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:

I should go home.

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:

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 relatively 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

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 that occurs with -are verbs, which change the “a” of the infinitive ending to “e”: instead of saying parlarei (which is incorrect), we say parlerei.

-are verbs

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

-ere verbs

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

-ire verbs

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, which 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:

  • Bere: berr-
  • Dovere: dovr-
  • Potere: potr-
  • Rimanere: rimarr-
  • Sapere: sapr-
  • Vedere: vedr-
  • Vivere: vivr-
  • Volere: vorr-

As you can see, for some of them we just eliminate the “ethat’s before the “r“.

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How to Learn Languages Fast

We recommend reading more about Italian verb tenses.

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.

Practice with Quizlet

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

Present conditional in Italian: a summary

The Italian present conditional is used in a few different ways, such as to express a desire or a purpose, to speak or ask kindly, to express doubt and uncertainty, or to refer to an event that is possible or likely and depends on a certain condition.

To say “should” or “could” in Italian, simply use the conjugated forms of “dovere” (must) and “potere” (can) in the present conditional, followed by a verb in the infinitive form.

Forming the present conditional in Italian is relatively straightforward.

Just take the verb and drop the final -e in the infinitive form, and add the following endings: io -ei, tu -esti, lui/lei -ebbe, noi -emmo, voi -este, loro -ebbero.

The only spelling difference that occurs with -are verbs, which change the “a” of the infinitive ending to “e”.

Here you are, now you know everything about the present conditional in Italian!

Now, why not learn the past conditional tense?

What is the present conditional tense in Italian?

The Italian present conditional tense is equivalent to the English "would + verb".

What is the difference between present and past conditional in Italian?

The key distinction between the present conditional and the past conditional is that the former has only one element, whereas the latter has two (the auxiliary and the past participle). 

How do you form the conditional in Italian?

Regular verbs ending in -are and -ere can be made conditional by adding the following endings to the stem: -erei, -eresti, -erebbe, -eremmo, -ereste, -erebbero.

Italian word of the day
passeggiata
Example
Hai voglia di fare una passeggiata?
Do you feel like going for a walk?
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2 Responses

  1. The second practice sentence says, “Mi potrebbe portare un bottiglia di acqua, per favore?”, and the translation says, “Could you please bring me a bottle of water, please?”. Besides saying “please” twice in the English translation, shouldn’t this say “Mi potresti”, instead of “Mi potrebbe”?

    1. “(Lei) mi potrebbe” is formal. “(Tu) mi potresti” is informal. 🙂
      I’ll fix the duplicate please, thank you!

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