Supposing someone said to you, "Do something!", I wonder how I should respond to that:

Non posso farlo. Infangherei la sua reputazione.

{or}: Non posso farlo. Infangherebbe la sua reputazione.

I've dropped the clause "se lo facessi".

Is it me {1st person} who would sully his reputation? Or is it the act of doing so {3rd person} that would end up tarnishing his reputation?

  • 4
    Both are grammatically correct. The subject is me in the first sentence and the action in the second.
    – alexjo
    Jan 12 '18 at 7:24

As @alexjo wrote in the comment, the two sentences are both correct, but have different meanings.

(1) "Non posso farlo. Infangherei la sua reputazione" means that I would sully his reputation.

(2) "Non posso farlo. Infangherebbe la sua reputazione" means that the action would sully his reputation, perhaps as an unintended but inevitable consequence.

In response to your final point, notice, however, that the clause "Se lo facessi" sound a bit awkward in:

(2)' "No posso farlo. Se lo facessi infangherebbe la sua reputazione"

While not exactly incorrect, the change of grammatical subject in the second sentence may even suggest that yet another subject has entered the picture. Perhaps someone else would take my action as an opportunity to sully his reputation.

  • Welcome to Italian.SE, @stefano!
    – Charo
    Jan 12 '18 at 16:40

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