In English, the following sentences have a different meaning.

If I were rich, I would live on Long Island.

If I am late, it is because the bus is late.

While the first sentence is using the irrealis mood, and it expresses something that will never happen (I will never be rich, and I will never live on Long Island), the second sentence is expressing a possibility (in the case I am late, that is because the bus is late).

Is there a way to express that also in Italian? Can I express the difference there is in those English sentences also in Italian, using two different moods or tenses?

1 Answer 1


Just as for English, the same distinction can be done in Italian, using the subjunctive + conditional vs the indicative.

Se fossi ricco vivrei su Long Island. (present subjunctive + present conditional)

or, in the past

Se fossi stato ricco avrei vissuto su Long Island.


Se sono in ritardo è a causa del [ritardo del] bus (present indicative)

or, in the past

Se fui in ritardo fu a causa del bus

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