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  11.2.2 Use of the condizionale with modal verbs

Those who don' t know what is modal verbs find them explained in chapter
(6.3 conjugation with modal verbs).

As we already said there is no clear distinction in Italian between have to / must and should. All of them are translated with debere. If the distinction between must and should is necessary, should can be translated with the condizionale.

must: There is a power sufficiently strong to impose its will.
Devo andare a Roma.
I have to go to Rome.

should: For ethical reasons or to obtain a goal it is opportune to something, but there is no obligation.
Dovrei andare a Roma.
I should go to Rome.

In a negative sentence it is not necesary to use the condizionale to describe that a certain behaviour is recommended, but not compulsory.

Obligation because of a logical relationship
Devi lavorare di più, se vuoi finire per stasera.
You have to work more, otherwise you will not finish this evening.
No obligation, but a certain behaviour is opportune to attain a certain goal.
Non devi fumare tanto, non è bene per la salute.
You shouldn' t smoke so much, it is not good for your health.

In English as well as in Italian the condizionale I of the modal verbs is used as well to attenuate the strength of a modal verb, in other words to be more polite.

Could you please tell me what time it is?
Potrebbe dirmi l' ora?

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