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Abbiamo pensato che ti avrebbe fatto piacere sentire di nuovo il sapore di casa.

I wonder if you always need to use Past Conditional in a subordinate clause after using Present Perfect in a main clause? Is it wrong to say:

Abbiamo pensato che ti farebbe piacere sentire di nuovo il sapore di casa.

In French, I would use Present Conditional instead in a subordinate clause, so this difference has me puzzled.

Nous avons pensé que tu voudrais... {NOT: ... que tu aurais voulu}

  • Not always. In this book you can find some examples with other verbal tenses. – Charo Jan 4 '18 at 23:02
  • For instance, "L'avvocato ha chiesto che l'imputato prendesse la parola" and "Il prefetto ha ordinato che nei locali del centro non vengano serviti alcolici dopo una certa ora." – Charo Jan 4 '18 at 23:02
  • Your example corresponds to this explanation from the book Grammatica italiana per stranieri by Maria Cristina Peccianti: «Il condizionale passato serve anche ad esprimere un'idea di futuro da una prospettiva passata: Dopo l'esperienza dell'ultima guerra la gente pensava che l'Italia sarebbe stata unita nella lotta per la pace.» That is, "past conditional is also used to convey the idea of future from a past perspective." – Charo Jan 4 '18 at 23:25
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The past conditional (e.g., sarebbe andato, avrebbe trovato) is used to express a future meaning with respect to a reference point in the past. In such cases you cannot use the present conditional. This is an unusual aspect of Italian; as pointed out in A Reference Grammar of Modern Italian (Section 15.2), English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese typically use the present conditional for "future in the past" constructions (though in English we can also use the periphrastic future, e.g., "I thought that you were going to find it" instead of "I thought that you would find it").

Also, it's important to understand that the past conditional is used to express "future in the past" not only after the present perfect but also after the passato remoto and the imperfect.

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  • Hi. So "Ti avevo detto che non mi avresti creduto...", does this mean "I had told you that you would not believe me*"? – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Jan 5 '18 at 4:28
  • @Alone-zee: Yes, that's a correct translation. – Charo Jan 5 '18 at 8:59
  • That's a good explanation. However, you must to notice that the answer to the question "you always need to use Past Conditional in a subordinate clause after using Present Perfect in a main clause?" is no, you can use other verbal tenses, as in the examples of my previous comment. – Charo Jan 5 '18 at 8:59
  • @Charo: Yes, that's why I was careful to specify that this construction is used for "future in the past" expressions. The question itself is vague, but the post makes it clear that the question refers specifically to present conditional vs. past conditional when expressing a future action from a reference point in the past. But you are absolutely correct, there are numerous situations in which a non-conditional verb form would follow the present perfect. – Gallego Jan 6 '18 at 4:24
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The two sentences are both grammatically correct but the meaning is different. As already pointed out, the past conditional means future in the past:

Abbiamo pensato che ti sarebbe piaciuto tornare a casa

(At that point in time in the past) we thought you would like to come back home (at some later moment with respect to that point)

Abbiamo pensato che ti piacerebbe tornare a casa

(We thought, now or in the immediate past) that you would like to come back home (at a later moment with respect to now)

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    But the latter sentence shouldn't be: "Abbiamo pensato che ti piacesse tornare a casa"? – Charo Jan 9 '18 at 11:01
  • I think This means yet another thing: (at that moment in the past) we thought that you liked to come back home (that is, you liked it at that same moment in the past, possibly continuing into now). 1 - ho pensato che l'avresti fatto: I thought (in the past) you would do it (at some point in the future with respect to then, probably in the past with respect to now) 2 - ho pensato che lo faresti: I thought (better: I think, because to me this indicates a past that is close in time) that you would do it (in the future) 3 - ho pensato che lo facessi: I thought that you used to do it – Enucatl Jan 9 '18 at 12:33
  • Another interesting perception that might even be in my mind only, is that n.2 seems to imply positivity in the sense that "I thought you would be positive about doing it", n.3 seems more negative, like "I thought you would do it, but I found out you don't". – Enucatl Jan 9 '18 at 12:34
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    From Serianni: Per indicare il «futuro del passato» oggi è di regola il condizionale composto: «credevo che saresti venuto l'indomani». Il tempo che si è adoperato piú spesso, fino ad anni recenti, è stato però il condizionale presente. Non persuade l'opinione di alcuni grammatici che considerano in uso, con questa funzione, entrambi i tempi del condizionale con una diversa distribuzione: il 'futuro nel passato' sarebbe 'espresso dal condizionale presente per indicare fatti che hanno poi avuto realizzazione, o dal condizionale passato per indicare quelli che non hanno avuto realizzazione. – alexjo Jan 9 '18 at 14:06

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