Il Condizionale – Italian Conditional – Review and Quiz

Let’s see how and when we can use the Italian Conditional: il condizionale

The Italian Condizionale has two tenses: Condizionale Semplice (or Presente) and Condizionale Composto (or Passato).

We use the Condizionale Semplice to express a desire in the present or future and the Condizionale Composto to describe a desire about a past situation, an alternative past that didn’t happen.

Let’s see how we can use the Italian Condizionale with regular, irregular, modal verbs. There are rules and exceptions, similarities with other tenses and tricks to remember. And much more, of course. We’ll wrap up all the information with a final quiz.

Siete pronti?

Condizionale Semplice

  • Quest’anno andrei in vacanza in Sicilia.

I’d like to go to Sicily on holiday. This is a desire that I have now, for the future.

  • Cambiare casa costerebbe troppi soldi.

Buying a house would cost too much. This is an opinion expressed with the Condizionale.

  • Secondo alcune notizie, il Papa andrebbe in Brasile tra una settimana.

According to some news, the Pope will go to Brazil. This is a fact, but we don’t have enough evidence to confirm it. We can use the Condizionale .

  • Ci servirebbe un tavolo per quattro persone.

We (would) need a table for four people. The Condizionale is less direct than the Indicativo and it’s appropriate for giving orders or ask something politely.

Condizionale Semplice of Essere and Avere

LUI / LEIsarebbeavrebbe

It is very important to memorise the conjugation of essere and avere. This way, you can easily build the Condizionale Composto.

  • Leggerei un bel libro. —> Avrei letto un bel libro.
  • Torneremmo a casa presto. —> Saremmo tornati a casa presto.

The Condizionale is pretty regular.

Verbs in -are and -ere have the same endings.

Verbs in -ire are slightly different, but the pattern is absolutely predictable.

Also, the peculiar difference of some verbs in -ire (e.g io capisco, finisco, pulisco etc.), which makes the present tense rather complex, disappears with the Italian Conditional.

Condizionale Semplice – Verbi Regolari

LUI / LEIparlerebbeleggerebbedormirebbe

Condizionale Semplice  – Modal Verbs

Often times, English speakers find it convenient to the conditional of “volere + infinito” instead of the Condizionale.

  • Mangerei un gelato al cioccolato.
  • Vorrei mangiare un gelato al cioccolato.

At the end of the day, the two sentences mean exactly the same thing and you are free to use the conditional of Volere. This is not always possible, but it’s an acceptable workaround if you are not familiar with the Condizionale.

Italians use both structures. You should try to make an effort and learn the Condizionale Semplice.

For your convenience, you can find here the conjugations of the four main Italian modal verbs in the Present Conditional form.

Verbs ending in -CIARE and -GIARE

Looking at the charts above, it’s easy to spot irregular verbs. Both the Condizionale of Essere and Avere are irregular. Modal verbs, Dovere, Potere, Volere and Sapere are irregular.

There are some patterns that we can easily identify and predict.

  • Verbs ending in – CIARE and – GIARE drop the “I”. So, we don’t spell it Mangierei but Mangerei and so on.
  • Verbs ending in – CARE e – GARE add a “h” to keep a consistent sound of C and G. We don’t say Giocerei but Giocherei.

These two changes are rather intuitive and don’t modify substantially the way we pronounce verbs.

Patterns of irregular Condizionale

There are three types of irregular verbs of the Italian Condizionale.

  • Some verbs drop the “A” or the “E”, notably: andare – dovere – potere – sapere (see above) – vedere – vivere and avere.
LUI/ LEIdovrebbepotrebbesaprebbevedrebbe

  • Normally, ARE and ERE have the same conjugation (—erei etc.), but some important verbs ending in ARE keep the “A” just like ESSERE (see above).

  • The third irregular pattern is the duplication of the R, the same we can notice in Volere (vorrei, vorresti…).

Please note that many verbs are related and have the same irregularities.

For example:

  • Venire is the root verb of Convenire, Divenire, Avvenire…
  • Porre is related to Comporre, Proporre, Disporre, Apporre…
  • Tenere is related to Contenere, Mantenere, Ottenere…
  • Tradurre is related to Condurre, Produrre, Indurre…

LUI / LEIverrebbeporrebbeterrebbetradurrebbe

A little trick. The Condizionale and the Futuro Semplice share the same irregular verbs.

The future of Venire is Verrò, Verrai, Verrà, Verremo, Verrete, Verranno, with the same rr irregularity.

Once you know which verbs are irregular with the Future tense, you can easily predict the same difference with the Condizionale

Condizionale Composto

As I said, the Condizionale Composto describes an alternative past, something that did not happen.

  • Adesso guarderei un film.
  • Ieri avrei guardato un film.

The first sentence is a possible wish, the second is a simple thought about something I didn’t do but wanted to.

  • Secondo la polizia, i ladri avrebbero rubato due Ferrari.

This is unconfirmed news describing a past event. Instead of hanno rubato we can use a more cautious avrebbero rubato.

  • Marco ha detto che sarebbe venuto alla festa.

This example represents the “future in the past”. Marco said something in the past regarding a future event. This is common especially in the reported speech, or discorso indiretto in Italian. If you need more info about that, please ask during our Live class.

Both tenses of the Condizionale are part of the Periodo Ipotetico, which is not included in today’s review. Please have a look and ask questions in the comments if you wish.

Condizionale composto as “impossibilità”. Audio examples

Impossibilità nel passato

Something that didn’t happen in the past. Plain and simple.

  • Avrei studiato all’università ma ho dovuto lavorare.
  • Sarei venuto alla tua festa però ero malato.
  • Ieri avrei preso l’autobus ma c’era sciopero

Impossibilità nel futuro immediato

The impossible action is a few moments from now. We imagine the action as complete but impossible. Both semplice and composto are possible.

  • Ti avrei accompagnato (or Ti accompagnerei) a casa in macchina ma ora non ho più benzina.
  • Adesso avrei aperto (or Aprirei) una bottiglia di vino, ma so che non bevi.
  • Buona questa pizza! Ne avrei ordinata (or Ne ordinerei) un’altra ma sono pieno.

Impossibilità nel futuro

Something that won’t happen in future. We imagine the impossible action as complete and give more intensity to the sentence. In the following examples the condizionale composto is mandatory, not alternative to the condizionale semplice.

  • Domani sarei andato a correre ma pioverà.
  • L’anno prossimo sarei dovuto andare in pensione ma devo lavorare ancora.
  • Il mese prossimo avrei cominciato un corso di inglese, ma lo hanno cancellato.

Please solve the quiz and check your final results.


I hope this post about the Condizionale will be helpful. Alla prossima!

Guido Reni – Il ratto di Elena – 1631

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Milanese, graduated in Italian literature a long time ago, I began teaching Italian online in Japan back in 2003. I usually spend winter in Tokyo and go back to Italy when the cherry blossoms shed their petals.

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dusia kretchmer
dusia kretchmer
2 years ago

I love your blog ! It’s built very logically – introduction, rules and excersizes! Easy to understand and do the excercises .Thanks a lot .

Catherine Mitchell
Catherine Mitchell
2 years ago

Questo è stato un ottimo ripasso. Grazie.

2 years ago

Buon giorno! Vorrei segnalarti una piccola svista nel quiz. Prima parte, numero 3: Non portiamo i(n) bambini in spiaggia -> non porteremmo i(n) bambini 

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