Mi ha promesso che sarebbe stato qui alle sei.

English Translation

He promised me he would be here at six.

Does this imply that it’s now past six o’clock, and he isn’t here, or can this also be said before the deadline?


That’s interesting @morbrorper. Immediatamente I thought he was late for his date in view of the conditional. But then I read it again! “Yes, I’m waiting here (at 5.30) as he promised me he would be here at six”. Forse le due opzioni sono accettabili.


That is indeed an interesting question.

In English you could replace the simple past tense with the perfect tense (“he has promised me …”) before 6 o’clock, but it would have to be replaced by the pluperfect tense (“he had promised me …”) if it were to be said after 6 o’clock (with an implied associated phrase such as “but he failed to show up”).

I wonder if something similar applies in Italian?

P.S. Actually, in English you could probably still use the perfect tense shortly after 6pm if the person were regularly late and you still expected them to arrive.


Maybe naively … I would have used both the Italian and the Englsih sentence in both situations.

After thinking it over, there is actually a third situation for both sentences:
He arrived at six sharp and I (proudly) say: “…”


There does not seem to be a conditional element. Perhaps it is unspoken.

I wonder if in Italian it would be more natural to say:

Ha promesso di essere qui alle sei.

He (has) promised to be here at six.

Aveva promesso di essere qui alle sei.

He had promised to be here at six.

Perhaps @mike-lima can help?


Well, I think the Italian sentence and the English one, for once, seem to match pretty well.

About the alternative meanings:
Without further qualifications I think I would use “Ha promesso” if the promise is still likely to be fulfilled, and “aveva promesso” if the promise was broken. It is not definitely the only possible meaning: for example I could say:

“Aveva promesso che sarebbe venuto alle sei, ed eccolo qui!”


I’ll confess what trips me up about this sentence: the use of a tense (sarebbe stato, “would have been”), when referring to the future, which to me hints at an already past event, or a hypothetical scenario.

I would naively have used plain sarebbe; would that have been wrong?

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Good question; but no, plain “sarebbe” is wrong in this case. I think “sarà” could be used, and it would give a sense that we are still early to judge if the promise will be fulfilled or not. I can find examples for this use, but the “consecutio temporum” rules do not contemplate it. So, considered it a colloquialism.

This is a case of “Indirect speech”:

To convert the following:

Mi ha promesso: “sarò lì alle sei”.

You have to change the future tense in the indirect citation into a conditional past tense, because the main clause “Mi ha promesso” is in the past.