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Mi Piace! – Part 4 Posted by on May 21, 2018 in Grammar

Almost a month ago I set out to write a ‘simple’ blog about how to use the verb piacere to say ‘I like …’. It seems to have turned into a work of epic proportions!

But a part 4 there must be dear readers, because we still haven’t covered a rather tricky, but very important conjugation: the conditional.

N.B. before you read this article you’ll need to have studied the following:
Italian Indirect Personal Pronouns
Mi Piace! – Part 1.
Mi Piace! – Part 2.
Mi Piace! – Part 3.

1. The present conditional – I would like

Let’s begin by looking at the verb piacere in the conditional tense:
io piacerei = I would please
tu piaceresti = you would please
lui/lei piacerebbe = he/she/it would please
noi piaceremmo = we would please
voi piacereste = you (plural) would please
loro piacerebbero = they would please

Of the above, the conjugations that you’ll use most frequently are the third person singular piacerebbe, and the third person plural piacerebbero.

The next step is to apply the rule that “in Italian it’s not the person that does the liking, but the thing that pleases the person”.
Here are some examples. As in my previous articles, I’ll begin with the English phrase in order to reinforce the transition from ‘liking’ something to ‘being pleased by’ something.

singular
‘I would like to go to Lucca’ from an Italian perspective would be: It would please me to go to Lucca, hence: Mi piacerebbe andare a Lucca
‘I would like his brother if he were less bossy’ would be: His brother would please me if he were less bossy, hence: Mi piacerebbe suo fratello se fosse meno prepotente
‘I would like to see that film’ would be: It would please me to see that film, hence: Mi piacerebbe vedere quel film
‘I would like a slice of cake’ would be: A slice of cake would please me, hence: Mi piacerebbe una fetta di torta

plural
‘If I had the money I’d like those shoes’ would be: If I had the money those shoes would please me, hence: Se avessi i soldi quelle scarpe mi piacerebbero
‘I’d like more pets’ would be: More pets would please me, hence: Mi piacerebbero più animali domestici
However, it’s more common to use the singular (piacerebbe) followed by an infinitive as in English:
‘If I had the money I’d like to buy those shoes’ would be: If I had the money it would please me to buy those shoes, hence: Se avessi i soldi mi piacerebbe comprare quelle scarpe
‘I’d like to have more pets’ would be: It would please me to have more pets, hence: Mi piacerebbe avere più animali domestici

2.The past conditional – I would have liked

We construct the past conditional with the verb essere followed by the past participle of piacere, i.e. piaciuto/a/i/e depending on number and gender.
Let’s take a look at the conditional tense of essere:
io sarei = I would be
tu saresti = you would be
lui/lei sarebbe = he/she/it would be
noi saremmo = we would be
voi sareste = you (plural) would be
loro sarebbero = they would be

“Mi sarebbe piaciuto mangiare una mela … ma Mr. Black ha deciso di fare un riposino sulle mie spalle!” Photo by Serena

Now for some examples:
singular
‘I would have liked to have gone to Lucca’ from an Italian perspective would be: It would have pleased me to have gone to Lucca, hence: mi sarebbe piaciuto andare a Lucca (n.b. the more literal translation of ‘to have gone to Lucca’ = essere andato a Lucca would not be used in this case as it sounds clumsy)
‘I would have liked his brother if he had been less bossy’ would be: His brother would have pleased me if he had been less bossy, hence: Mi sarebbe piaciuto suo fratello se fosse stato meno prepotente
‘I would have liked to see that film’ would be: It would have pleased me to see that film, hence: Mi sarebbe piaciuto vedere quel film
‘I would have liked a slice of cake’ would be: A slice of cake would have pleased me, hence: Mi sarebbe piaciuta una fetta di torta

plural
‘If I had had the money I would have liked those shoes’ would be: If I had had the money those shoes would have pleased me, hence: Se avessi avuto i soldi quelle scarpe mi sarebbero piaciute
‘I would have liked more pets’ would be: More pets would have pleased me, hence: Mi sarebbero piaciuti più animali domestici
However, it’s more common to use the singular (sarebbe piaciuto) followed by an infinitive as in English:
Se avessi avuto i soldi mi sarebbe piaciuto comprare quelle scarpe
Mi sarebbe piaciuto avere più animali domestici

3. She would like me!

Finally, here are those tricky conjugations from Part 2. and Part 3. in the past conditional tense:

‘They told me that she would have liked me’ from an Italian perspective would be: ‘They told me that I would have pleased her’, hence: ‘Mi hanno detto che le sarei piaciuto/a
‘They said that they would have liked us’ would be: ‘They said that we would have pleased them’, hence: ‘Hanno detto che gli saremmo piaciuti’
‘I know that he would have liked you’ would be: ‘I know that you would have pleased him’, hence: ‘So che gli saresti piaciuto/a

Coming soon, an exercise based on the use of piacere.

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Comments:

  1. Joan Engelhaupt:

    Aaaargh!!!

    • Geoff:

      @Joan Engelhaupt Nice summary Joan. 😉

      • Geoff:

        @Geoff Ciao Tristan, scusa, non ho capito la tua domanda. I don’t understand your question.

        Geoff.

        • Geoff:

          @Geoff Ciao Tristian, mi is an indirect object pronoun meaning ‘to me’, as in mi piace (it is pleasing to me). Ho is the first person singular of avere and means ‘I have’.
          You should study this article: https://blogs.transparent.com/italian/italian-indirect-personal-pronouns/
          If you want to say ‘I read myself a book’ you need to use essere(to be), not avere (to have).
          Hence you’d say ‘mi sono letto un libro‘, or mi sono fatto un caffè (I made myself a coffee).

          A presto, Geoff 🙂

  2. Mike Jolly:

    Se fosse semplice non sarebbe divertente!
    Grazie per questa serie di blog Geoff

  3. Ray L:

    Repetition, repetition, repetition. Having studied Italian for 4 yrs it is the best advice I’ve been given and can offer.

    • Geoff:

      @Ray L It’s good advice if you’re not constantly repeating your mistakes Ray. Students who’ve never been corrected, and have consistently repeated the same mistake will really struggle to break the habit.

      A presto, Geoff 🙂

  4. Nini Rukmini:

    waiting for the exercise of piacere. Thank you very much.


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