The past conditional tense is not that challenging, but it does, just like all the other tenses, take some practice to get used to.

It just requires a few more moving parts that you have to encourage your brain to accommodate.

Before I walk you through how to use the past conditional tense in Italian, let’s first chat about when you need to use it because it can differ slightly from English.

When to Use the Past Conditional:

— Advice/Opinion: You SHOULD HAVE STUDIED Italian every day. – AVRESTI DOVUTO STUDIARE l’italiano ogni giorno.

— Doubt: I didn’t know if he WOULD HAVE WANTED TO LEARN Italian. – Non sapevo se lui AVREBBE VOLUTO IMPARARE l’italiano.

— Guess/Assumption (typically something that hasn’t been confirmed yet): Secondo le notizie, quattro delle modelle di Gucci sarebbero state rapite proprio dalla passerella! Chi AVREBBE POTUTO RAPIRLE?! – According to the news, four of the Gucci models HAVE BEEN KIDNAPPED right from the runway! Who COULD HAVE KIDNAPPED THEM?


— Desire: I WOULD HAVE LIKED TO VISIT Orvieto, but there was a train strike. – AVREI VOLUTO VISITARE Orvieto, però c’era uno sciopero dei treni.

— A past action that couldn’t be completed: Ti AVREI CHIAMATO, ma non avevo il tuo numero di telefono. – I WOULD HAVE called you, but I didn’t have your telephone number.

But wait, there’s one more super special one.

You can also use the conditional perfect to talk about a future action that was talked about in the past.

I know, sounds weird.

— A future action…in the past: Hannah told me that she WOULD study with me tomorrow. – Hannah mi ha detto che domani AVREBBE STUDIATO con me.

The past action is that Hannah TOLD me something.

The future action is that the studying.

Italian grammar: Past conditional tense
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