Dovere, potere e volere al condizionale
The present conditional of dovere, potere and volere is often used instead of the present tense to soften the impact of a statement or request.
1. Dovere: Dovrei means I should or I ought to (in addition to I would have to), in contrast to the present tense devo (I must, I have to).
Il commune dovrebbe fornire più contenitori per i materiali riciclabili.
The city government should provide more containers for recycable materials.
Dovremmo cercare subito un parcheggio.
We ought to look for a parking spot right away.
Si dovrebbe rispettare l’ambiente.
People should respect the environment.
2. Potere: Potrei is equivalent to English I could, I would be able, and I would be allowed.
Potresti darmi l’orario dei treni?
Could you give me the train schedule?
Se vuoi, potrei andare io a prendere Giulia.
If you want, I could go pick up Giulia.
3. Volere: Vorrei means I would want or I would like. It is much more polite than the present-tense form voglio.
Vorrei riciclare di più.
I would like to recycle more.
Vorresti venire ad una festa a casa mia?
Would you like to come to a party at my house?
NOTE: would like can also be expressed using the conditional form of piacere.
Ti piacerebbe andare in vacanza in un clima tropicale?
Would you like to go on vacation in a tropical climate?
Mi piacerebbe vedere un parco nazionale.
I would like to see a national park.
NOTA BENE: Potere
In English both the past and the conditional of can are expressed with could. In Italian these tenses are clearly differentiated.
Ieri non ho potuto studiare.
Oggi potrei studiare ma non ne ho voglia.
Yesterday I couldn’t study.
Today I would be able to study but I don’t want to.
As in the example, the passato prossimo expesses a completed action; the condizionale expresses conjecture about the present or the future.