Present conditional: Italian grammar lesson 160

Are you curious about the Italian present conditional tense? In Italian grammar, it’s a tense used for an event that is possible or likely. To help you better understand it, let’s look at some rules, conjugations, sentences, and exercises.
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Conjugation condizionale presente

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 be 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 (present conditional form) 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).

How to use the present conditional in Italian

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 use the Italian conditional

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

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.

The Italian present conditional conjugation

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

The Italian condizionale presente

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-

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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“.

We recommend reading more about Italian verb tenses.

How to use the condizionale presente

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.

How to use the Italian present conditional

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!

Still translating in your head? Wanna speak Italian for real? Check out Stefano's courses to think directly in Italian and become fluent fast!

FAQs on Present conditional: Italian grammar lesson 160

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.

Stefano

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