The adjective hypothetical derives from the word hypothesis. An hypothesis is something that, in particular circumstances, can happen.
A conditional sentence, il periodo ipotetico, is made up by a main clause and by a subordinate clause introduced by the subordinating conjunction se, if in english.
The main clause is called apodosi; the subordinate clause, if clause in english, is called protasi.
Conditional sentences are divided into three types: the hypothesis expressed can be real, possible or irreal. In relation to the type of the sentence, different tenses and different moods must be used.

- Periodo ipotetico della realtà

The condition is either likely to be met or may even be a reality already.

Protasi (if clause)

Apodosi (main clause)

se + indicativo presente or futuro        


Se piove (If it rains)                                        

Se corri (If you run)          

Se andrete al concerto
(If you go to the concert)            


se + indicativo presente                       


Se mangi qualcosa (If you eat something)

indicativo presente or futuro


apro l’ombrello. (I’ll open the umbrella)

raggiungerai Luca. (you’ll reach Luca.)

vi divertirete.
(you’ll enjoy yourselves.)




dopo lava i piatti (then wash the dishes.)










 - Periodo ipotetico della possibilità

The condition is about something possible: maybe, the situation can come true.

Protasi (subordinata)

Apodosi (principale)

se + congiuntivo imperfetto                


Se dovesse piovere (If it rained)              

Se corressi (If you ran)           

condizionale presente


aprirei l’ombrello. (I would open the umbrella.)

raggiungeresti Luca. (You would reach Luca.)

- Periodo ipotetico dell’irrealtà

When there is little chance of the conditions coming true or when there is the impossibility of the condition coming true, it must be used the third type of hypothetical sentences.

Protasi (subordinata)

Apodosi (principale)

se + congiuntivo imperfetto                


se + congiuntivo trapassato                


Se avessi le ali (If I had had the wings)                                

Se avessi corso (If you had run)  

condizionale presente


condizionale passato


volerei. (I would have flown)           
irreal hypothesis

avresti raggiunto Luca. (you would have reached Luca.)       hypothesis no more feasible

Important: se is always set before indicative and subjunctive tenses, never before conditional ones.

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