condizionale passato

The Condizionale Passato (Past Conditional) in Italian is used for different purposes.

In this grammar tip we focus on the use called Futuro nel passato.

First of all, how is the Condizionale Passato formed?

It is made with the Condizionale Presente of Essere or Avere and the Pasticipio Passato (Past Participle) of the main verb.

Let’s see!

Arrivare Conoscere
Io Sarei arrivato/a Avrei conosciuto
Tu Saresti arrivato/a Avresti conosciuto
Lui/Lei Sarebbe arrivato/a Avrebbe conosciuto
Noi Saremmo arrivati/e Avremmo conosciuto
Voi Sareste arrivati/e Avreste conosciuto
Loro Sarebbero arrivati/e Avrebbero conosciuto


As you can notice, when the main verb requires the auxiliary Essere, the Past Participle agrees with the subject.

So we have to consider gender and number in order to use the correct form.

When we use the auxiliary Avere, instead, the Past Participle doesn’t change.

Now, what does Futuro nel passato mean?

It is not different from what in English is called Future in the past.

Basically the Condizionale Passato can express an action which happened after another action in the past.

Therefore it is a future action in relation to the main past verb.

Some nice examples will clarify that!

Italian English
Mi ha detto che mi avrebbe telefonato presto. He told me he would call me soon.
Il professore ha detto che mi avrebbe interrogata il giorno dopo. The professor said that he would test me the day after.
Ho pensato che Laura sarebbe venuta a trovarmi. I thought Laura would come to visit me.

If we draw a time line, it is clear that the action expressed by the Condizionale Passato follows the one expressed by the main past verb.

Now you can start thinking of other examples to use the Future in the past in Italian!

Check some other online resources to practice your Italian and nice video tutorials to learn more.


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