11.2 use of the condizionale


11.2.1 use of the condizionale in if clauses

As we already mentioned if-clauses exist in three different versions.

if clause type I
  In this kind of if clause the condition is likely to happen and so the events / actions depending from that condition are likely to happen as well.

If he is here at six o'clock, we can go to cinema.
  if clause type II
  In this kind of if clause the condition is unlikely to happen, even if not completely impossible, and so the action or event depending from that condition is unlikely to happen as well

If he were here at six o'clock we could go to the cinema.
  if clause type III
  This kind of if clause describes a merely hypothecial relationship between the condition and the action / event that depends on that condition. The condition was not fulfilled and so the action / event depending on that condition didn't happend either.

If he had come at six o'clock, we could have gone to the cinema.

Don' t confuse an if clause with a temporal clause.

if clause
If he comes, I ask him.
  Se viene, glielo chiedo.
temporal clause
  When he comes, I ask him.
  Quando viene, glielo chiedo.
 
Those who speak French should see that there is a difference between French and Italian. In if clause type II and III in French the indicative is used, in Italian the congiuntivo. In English it works in theory as in Italian, but due to the fact that there is normally no difference between the indicative forms and the subjunctive forms that's only perceptible with some verbs (If I were riche, I would buy a car not If I was....).
if clause type II  
  If I had money, I would by a car.  
  French: Si j' avais de l' argent, je m' acheterais une voiture.  
  Italian: Se avessi i soldi, mi comprerei una macchina.
  if clause type III  
  If I had had money, I would had bought a car.  
  French: Si j' avais eu de l' argent, je m' aurais acheté une voiture.  
  italien: Se avessi avuto i soldi, mi sarei comprato una macchina.

Concerning Italian we have the situation described below.

if clause type I
  In the if clause type I the presente indicativo is used in the if clause. The event which depends from the condition is described in presente indicativo as well.
 
Se lavori di più, guadagni di più.
If you work more, you earn more.
Se non impara ciò che deve imparare, non supererà questo esame.
If he doesn' t learn what he must learn, he will not pass the exam.
Se gli dice ciò che vuole, lui l' aiuterà.
If he writes him what he needs, he will help him.
  if clause type II
  In the if clause type II the imperfetto congiuntivo is used in the if clause. The event which depends on the condition is described in condizionale I.
 
Se fumasse meno si sentirebbe meglio.
If he smoked less, he would feel better.
Se mi dicesse ciò che succede, sarebbe meglio.
If he told me, what is happening, it would be better.
Se superassi l'esame, sarei felice.
If I approuve the exam, I am happy.
Se non facesse tante sciocchezze, sarebbe simpatico.
If he didn' t make such such lot of stupid things, he would be nice.
  if clause type III
  In the if clause type III the trapassato di congiuntivo is used in the if clause. The event which depends from the condition is described in the condizionale II.
 
Se fossimo partiti alle sei, saremmo arrivati puntuali.
If we had left at six o' clock, we would have arrived punctually.
Se fosse riuscito a riparare la macchina, sarebbero potuti andare in vacanza.
If he had succeded in repairing the car, the could have gone on holidays.
Se mi fossi reso conto di questo, non lo avrei mai fatto.
If I had realized that, I never would had done it.
Se me lo aveste detto prima, non ci sarei andato.
If you had told me that before, I wouldn' t had gone there.

The schedule of the if clause type I / II / III you find in any grammar book because this schedule covers most of the cases. If you think about it, you will find sentences that don't fit this schedule. This constellation is possible as well.

The situation in the present is due to an event in the past.

If I had wone in the lottery, I would be happy now.
  Se avessi vinto al lotto, sarei felice adesso.

In this case in the if clause the trapassato congiuntivo is used, in the main clause the condizionale I. Although nobody has a problem with this kind of structure and everybody would understand it, it is worth to be mentioned.





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