The landscape of Italian verbs – part 2

You can find the first part of this article here. Now it’s time to tackle l’imperativo, il condizionale e il congiuntivo.


L’imperativo is used to give “orders”. It’s an easy verb tense. It’s only declined in 3 form. For example, a verb like camminare (to walk) would be:

– Cammina !  Walk! – this is talking casually to one person.

 Camminiamo !  This is said to a group and the action will be performed by the leader, too.

– Camminate !  This is said to a group and the leader won’t perform the action with the group.




Il condizionale comes in 2 verb tenses: presente and passato prossimo. They are both condizionale, but one is about past things and the other is about future things.


Il condizionale presente

is used in 2 situations:

1) for an action that could happen  

(real potential situation – could / should)

Ex: Potrei scalare una montagna.

I could climb a mountain.


2) to express a wish

(uncertain future – would)

Ex: L’uomo vorrebbe scalare la montagna

The man would like to climb the mountain.


Il condizionale passato

is about things that could have happened but didn’t. Unlike condizionale presente, this time, it’s too late to make it happen. Think of it as the past of a parallel life. In English, there is a good expression for it: “crying over spilled milk”.
Ex:L’uomo avrebbe potuto esplorare la foresta.

The man could have explored the forest.


The nightmare inducing congiuntivo. As it doesn’t exist in English, it will require some training at first, but it’s not as bad as you think. First of all, you need to know it always has the word che (that) tacked in front of it . Now let’s see 3 cases where you’d use it:

1) When expressing your opinion

Usually, with verbs like pensare, credere, etc (I think, I believe…)

Ex: Penso che sia un bel dipinto.

I think it’s a beautiful painting.

Ex: Credo che tu abbia torto.

I believe you’re wrong.

2) When expressing a feeling or a wish about a future action, the future action is in congiuntivo.

With verbs such as volere, preferire and sperare  what follows is often in congiuntivo.
Ex: Vorrei che tu venissi con me.

I would like you to come with me.


3) When expressing a feeling about someone else’s action, that action is in congiuntivo.

With a state of mind such as Mi dispiace che.. (I’m sorry that…), Sono sorpreso che… (I’m surprised that…) what follows is often in congiuntivo. This can be useful when gossiping!

Ex: Sono contento che tu possa venire.

I’m glad you can come.

As congiuntivo seems to spring from feelings, obligations and wishes, I’ve pinned it on the guy’s heart, but I could have pinned it on his head too. On a timeline, it’s neither in the past nor in the future in itself, even though it may regard things in the present or in the future.


Let’s recapitulate quickly

In short, this is what a Italian timeline would look like:


an action happening right now presente
a general truth presente
a habit (still ongoing) presente
a lost habit imperfetto
an action from the past, something isolated and finished passato prossimo
an action that lasted for a long while but in now over passato prossimo
an action that will happen in the future futuro
an action that could, should or would happen condizionale presente
a wish condizionale presente
an action that could have happened but didn’t condizionale passato
a strong suggestion, an order imperativo
an action preceded by “I believe, I hope, I think…” congiuntivo

I hope you find it both useful and not too hard to digest!

Thank you for reading this article.

If you find it useful or if you have any questions, please like it or leave a comment.




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