The past conditional

We form the past conditional using the present conditional form of the auxiliary verb essere (to be) or avere (to have), followed by the past participle of the main verb.

Io avrei parlato
Tu avresti parlato
Lui/lei avrebbe parlato
Noi avremmo parlato
Voi avreste parlato
Loro avrebbero parlato
Io sarei andato/sarei andata
Tu saresti andato/saresti andata
Lui/lei sarebbe andato/sarebbe andata
Noi saremmo andati/saremmo andate
Voi sareste andati/sareste andate
Loro sarebbero andati/sarebbero andate

We use the past conditional for the following:

  • To talk about what would have happened under different circumstances, in sentences with se (if) + past perfect subjunctive.

Se fossi uscito prima, saresti arrivato in tempo arrivare, condizionale passato.

If you had left earlier, you would have arrived on time.

  • After se (if) or che (that) in indirect questions, after verbs like chiedersi (to wonder), domandarsi (to ask oneself), non sapere (to not know), dirsi (to tell oneself), etc. to express a question or doubt.

Mi chiedo se mi avrebbe chiamato chiamare, condizionale passato.

I wonder if he would have called me.

Mi dico che sarei riuscita a finire il lavoro anche da sola riuscire, condizionale passato.

I tell myself that I would have managed to finish the job by myself.

  • To express or ask for an opinion on a situation that occurred in the past.

Cosa avresti fatto al mio posto?fare, condizionale passato

What would you have done if you were me?

  • In indirect speech, to talk about the future in the past. Note that we use the present conditional in such contexts in English.

Anna: «Andrò al lavoro domani» → Anna aveva detto che sarebbe andata al lavoro il giorno seguente andare, condizionale passato.

Anna: “I will go to work tomorrow” → Anna said that she would go to work the next day (literally “would have gone”).

  • To express oneself politely without using the passato prossimo (perfect tense).

Avrei finito (= ho finito) il lavoro, posso andare? finire, condizionale passato

I've finished the job. May I go? (literally, “I would have finished the job…”)

  • To express surprise.

– Ciro si è sposato! – Non l'avrei mai detto! dire, condizionale passato

-Ciro got married! -I would never have guessed! (literally, “I would never have said it!”)

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