Conditional Present

There are two conditional tenses in Italian – Conditional Present and Past Conditional. Both of these tenses are verbal modes that can be used to describe situations or actions that are conditioned by other actions or situations.
The conditional present tense is used to express wishes either in the present or future tense, as well as to give advice or express opinions in a less direct way. It can also be used to ask for something politely. In English this would be created by using would + verb.
I would go to the party but I have to go to work – (Io) andrei alla festa ma devo lavorare.

Regular verbs:

To conjugate a verb such as scrivere – to write, you would remove the -ere ending and replacing with the conjugation from the column -ERE-. For example, for I (IO) this would be scriverei. For parlare – to speak it would be parlerei.

Irregular verbs – without an E:

Other verbs that follow this same pattern are: potere, dovere, sapere, vedere and cadere.

Irregular verbs – with a double R:

Irregular verbs that do not fall into the above categories:

The imperative

Using the imperative in Italian allows us to either;

Give a command or an order, scold or reprimand a person or to ask somebody to do something.

To form the imperative of regular verbs you replace the infinite endings (-are, -ere, -ire) with the endings listed below.

-ARE

Tu -a

Lui/lei/Lei – i

Noi – iamo

Voi – ate

Loro – ino

-ERE

Tu – i

Lui/lei/Lei – a

Noi – iamo

Voi – ete

Loro – ano

-IRE

Tu – i

Lui/lei/Lei – a

Noi – iamo

Voi – ite

Loro – ano

When forming irregular verbs there is no rule to follow, so these need to be simply learned off by heart. The following are examples of the formation of some irregular verbs.

ESSERE

Tu sii

Lui/lei/Lei – sia

Noi – siamo

Voi – siate

Loro – siano

AVERE

Tu – abbi

Lui/lei/Lei – abbia

Noi – abbiamo

Voi – abbiate

Loro – abbiano

DIRE

Tu – di’/dì

Lui/lei/Lei – dica

Noi – diciamo

Voi – dite

Loro – dicono

FARE

Tu – fa’/fai

Lui/lei/Lei – faccia

Noi – facciamo

Voi – fate

Loro – facciano

STARE

Tu – sta’/stai

Lui/lei/Lei – stia

Noi – stiamo

Voi – state

Loro – stiano

SAPERE

Tu – sappi

Lui/lei/Lei – sappia

Noi – sappiamo

Voi – sappiate

Loro – sappiano

ANDARE

Tu – va’/vai

Lui/lei/Lei – vada

Noi – andiamo

Voi – andate

Loro – vadano

DARE

Tu – da’/dai

Lui/lei/Lei – dia

Noi – diamo

Voi – date

Loro – diano

And finally if you want to use the imperative with tonic/atonic personal pronouns then they must be combined with the imperative. An example of this would be mangia la frutta -> mangiala (eat it).

I verbi servili

The four modal verbs or verbi servili – Potere, volere, dovere and sapere (when it expresses an ability), are some of the most commonly used verbs in Italian, and are also all irregular verbs so it is important to learn them. Modal verbs are used to indicate an ability, obligation, a desire or a permission to do something and are usually followed by a verb in the infinitive tense.

Non posso andare al cinema – I can not go to the cinema.

Oggi devo studiare l’italiano – I have to study Italian today.

Voglio leggere questo libro – I want to read this book.

So nuotare ma non posso nuotare oggi – I can swim (I know how to swim) but I can’t swim today.

Conjugating modal verbs (Present tense)

POTERE

io posso

tu puoi

lui/lei/Lei può

noi possiamo

voi potete

loro possono

DOVERE

io devo

tu devi

lui/lei/Lei deve

noi dobbiamo

voi dovete

loro devono

VOLERE

io voglio

tu vuoi

lui/lei/Lei vuole

noi vogliamo

voi volete

loro vogliono

SAPERE

io so

tu sai

lui/lei/Lei sa

noi sappiamo

voi sapete

loro sanno

Modal verbs and compound tenses

Compound tenses are tenses such as passato prossimo and trapassato prossimo. When using modal verbs with these tenses you need to understand what auxiliary to use with them. Usually this would follow the same rule as you would follow if using the verb in the infinitive form (avere or essere).

Example using passato prossimo:

Ho potuto parlare francese con lui – I was able to speak French with him.

Sono potuto andare al cinema – I was able to go to the cinema.

Ho voluto prendere il treno per Milano – I had to take the train to Milan.

Non ha saputo nuotare – I didn’t know how to swim.

Sono dovuta andare al supermercato – I had to go to the supermarket.

Ha dovuto salvare il gatto – He had to save the cat.