All posts by Kathryn Occhipinti

About Kathryn Occhipinti

Dr. Kathryn Occhipinti is a radiologist of Italian-American descent who has been leading Italian language groups in the Peoria and Chicago areas for about 10 years. During that time, she founded Stella Lucente, LLC, a publishing company focused on instructional language books designed to make learning a second language easy and enjoyable for the adult audience. Using her experiences as a teacher and frequent traveler to Italy, she wrote the "Conversational Italian for Travelers" series of books, which follow the character Caterina on her travels through Italy, while at the same time introducing the fundamentals of the Italian language. The associated website www.learntravelitalian.com, provides free interactive dialogues recorded by native Italian speakers, cultural notes, and Italian recipes to make learning the language really come alive. Everything one needs to know to travel to Italy is in this series of books!

Picture of Conversational Italian for Travelers Grammar book on a checkered table cloth, reference book with a chapter on how to make comparisons in Italian

Italian Subjunctive (Part 6): Situations for Italian Adjective Clauses and Comparisons

Italian Subjunctive (Part 6): Situations for Italian Adjective Clauses and Comparisons

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog               Read here about Italian adjective clauses and Italian comparison phrases and learn about important situations that use the Italian Subjunctive Mood!

 

Speak Italian: Situations Use Italian Adjective Clauses with the Italian Subjunctive Mood

Can you speak Italian? By now, many of you have passed the beginning stages of learning to speak Italian and can read and comprehend quite a bit of the Italian language. Meraviglioso!

But have you tried to take the next step to speak Italian fluently? Do you know which situations use the Italian subjunctive mood? To express complex feelings in Italian correctly, it is important to use the Italian subjunctive mood. Using the subjunctive mood is difficult for English speakers, as we only rarely use this tense in English, and this is something that I am always working on! The next two blogs in the “Speak Italian” blog series will focus on how to use the Italian subjunctive mood, or “il congiuntivo.”

Let’s take that giant step from simple beginning sentences to more complex and fluid sentences in Italian by using the subjunctive mood. In this segment, we will discuss Italian adjective clauses that take the subjunctive mood, and also include a brief discussion of comparison phrases and when Italian comparison phrases require the subjunctive mood. Finally, we will learn how to use the conjunction “sia” as a conjunction in order to connect phrases when trying to say, “Both…and…” Example sentences will follow using Italian adjective clauses for each situation.

Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mood

In each blog in the “Speak Italian” series about the  Italian subjunctive mood (“il congiuntivo”),  we will first present situations take the Italian subjunctive mood.

In this blog, we will then present common Italian adjective clauses used in daily life that take the Italian subjunctive mood.

Remember these examples as “anchors” in your knowledge for when you must speak Italian and try out the subjunctive mood in your next Italian conversation!

Enjoy our blog: “Italian Subjunctive (Part 6): Situations for Italian Adjective Clauses and Comparisons”
—Kathryn Occhipinti

Some of this material is adapted from our textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC, found on www.learntravelitalian.com. Special thanks to Italian instructor Maria Vanessa Colapinto.


Speak Italian: Situations that Use the  Italian Subjunctive Mood (Part 6)

A Brief Review of Phrases that take
the Italian Subjunctive Mood 

In previous blogs, we have noted that Italian uses a subjunctive mood that to express beliefs, thoughts, or hopes with the verbs credere, pensare, and sperare.

The subjunctive mood is also said to “open up” a conversation to discussion about a particular topic by expressing doubt, uncertainty, desire, or a feeling.

Certain phrases are commonly used to start a sentence in order to introduce the subjunctive mood, and these initial phrases can be in the indicative tense (the “usual” present or past tense) or in the conditional tense. These initial phrases imply uncertainty and trigger the subjunctive mood in the phrase to follow.

These groups are listed below.

Groups 1-9: “Noun Clauses”

Group 10: “Adverbial Clauses”

Groups 11 and 12: “Adjective/Pronoun Clauses”

      1. Phrases that use the verbs credere (to believe), pensare (to think), and sperare (to hope). These verbs use the pattern: [verb  di + infinitive verb to describe the beliefs, thoughts, or hopes that one has. When the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the subjunctive clause that follows, the pattern changes to: [verb + che + subjunctive verb].*
      2. Impersonal constructions that begin with, “It is…” such as, “È possibile che…”
      3. Phrases that express a doubt, such as, “I don’t know…” or “Non so che…”
      4. Phrases that express suspicion, such as, ” I suspect that…” or “Sospetto che…”
      5. Phrases that express uncertainty, such as, “It seems to me…” or “Mi sembra che…” and  “Chiedersi se… “ or ” To wonder if…”
      6. Impersonal verbs followed by the conjunction che, such as, “Basta che…” “It is enough that,” or “Si dice che…” “They say that…
      7. Phrases that use the verbs volere, desiderare, chiedere, esigere  when the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the clause that follows. In this situation, these verbs will be followed by che.
      8. Phrases that use the verbs piacere and dispiacere when the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the clause that follows. In this situation, these verbs will be followed by che.
      9. Phrases that express feelings (any emotion, fear, surprise) and use the pattern: [avere, essere, or augurarsi verb  +  di + infinitive verb].  When the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the clause that follows, the pattern changes to: [avere, essere, or augurarsi verb + che + subjunctive verb].
      10. Sentences that begin with words that end in –ché, or complex conjunctions that end with che:  affinché, perché (so as, so that, in order that), purché (as long as, provided that, only if)**, a meno che, senza che (unless), può darsi che (it may be possible that, possibly, maybe), prima che (before that).  Also the many words that mean although/even though, one of which ends in -che: benché  (also sebenne, malgrado, nonostante).***
      11. Sentences that begin with adjectives or pronouns that include the idea of any in a description of a person, place or thing:  qualsiasi, qualunque (any), chiunque (whoever), dovunque (anywhere).
      12. Sentences that begin with adjectives or pronouns that include the idea of nothing or only  in a description of a person, place, or thing: niente che, nulla che (nothing that), nessuno che (nobody that), l’unico, il solo, a che (the only one that).
      13. Phrases that correspond to the English “both… and…” use the conjunction sia and the structure “sia… che…”
      14. Hypothetical Phrases:  Phrases that begin with se (if) in certain situations. Phrases that begin with come se (as if), and magari (if only)

For a review of how to use the groups of phrases that need the Italian subjunctive mood  listed above, please see our previous blogs on this topic by clicking on the links below:

How to Use the Present Tense Italian Subjunctive Mood (Parts 1-3). 

How to Use the Imperfetto Subjunctive for Italian Past Tense (Parts 1-3)

How to Use The Italian Subjunctive Mood (Parts 4 and 5) — Hypothetical Phrases

You will notice that numbers 11 and 12 above discuss specific phrases called adjective clauses that take the subjunctive mood. In this blog, we will discuss various situations, along with specific words and phrases, that will trigger the subjunctive mood in the adjective clause to follow.

We will also discuss number 13 as the last section in this bog in order to learn how to express “both… and…” and  “whether… or…” in Italian, including when it is necessary to use the subjunctive mood with these phrases.

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Points to remember about the subjunctive mood:

In Italian, the introductory phrases that take the subjunctive mood (those that trigger doubt, uncertainty, desire, or a feeling)  usually end with a linking word, also known as a conjunction, which will be che.  In this situation, che means that.  The clause that follows our introductory phrase will then describe what the uncertainty is about.

We now see from Group 9 that some words or phrases already have -ché or che integrated into the word itself. In these cases, che is not repeated.  The clause that follows our introductory phrase will then describe what the uncertainty is about.

*When the speaker in the introductory phrase will carry out the action in the phrase to follow, Italian will use the following construction to link the phrases for credere, pensare, and sperare :  di + infinitive verb. Example: Penso di andare a Roma domani.  =  I think I will go to Rome tomorrow. (Use  pensare a when thinking ABOUT something or someone.)

**solo se also means only if but does NOT take the subjunctive mode.

*** anche se also means even though/if but does NOT take the subjunctive mode.

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Finally, a word of caution:

DO NOT USE THE SUBJUNCTIVE WITH THE FOLLOWING THREE PHRASES!

Forse = Perhaps

 Per me = For me

Secondo me = According to me

Solo se = Only if

Anche se = Even though, If

The above may seem like exceptions to the rule, but perhaps… because these phrases already express doubt or your personal opinion… in the Italian way of thinking, it would be redundant to use these phrases along with the subjunctive!


Speak Italian: How to Use the Subjunctive Mood in Situations with Italian Adjective Clauses

An adjective clause is a phrase that modifies a  noun or a pronoun. Simply stated, an adjective clause is a group of words that together add additional information or further describe the person, place, or thing a sentence is about. These phrases are “dependent clauses” as they cannot “stand alone” as a complete sentence, but are dependent on the phrase that comes before them to make sense.

Now that we know what an adjective clause is, we have to discuss just what triggers use of the Italian subjunctive for an Italian adjective clause.  Italian adjective clauses are commonly used in speech and writing, and of course, not all will need the subjunctive mood!

We have already listed some specific Italian phrases that are classified as adjective clauses in the last section of this blog. These phrases will often start a sentence and then will trigger use of the Italian subjunctive mood in the phrase that comes after.

There are also certain situations that will trigger use of the Italian subjunctive mood.  In these cases, it is the uncertainty in the situation described in the first phrase of the sentence that will trigger use of the Italian subjunctive mood in the adjective clause that follows.

As one can imagine, there are innumerable “uncertain” situations that can be modified with adjective clauses, and therefore will take the Italian subjunctive mood.  Some examples will be listed below.

Similar to other situations when it is necessary to use the Italian subjunctive mood, when modifying an Italian phrase by adding an adjective clause after it, the two phrases must be linked by a conjunction, which will be che. In this situation, che means who or that.

Read on below to find out which “uncertain” or “comparative” situations will need to take the Italian subjunctive mood if you would like to add additional information to make a more complex and varied sentence when speaking Italian.

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Italian Adjective Clauses that Modify
Indefinite Antecedents:
“Cercare”  

Many situations arise when an individual will mention a specific person or thing they are looking for,  but at the time of the conversation the speaker knows that this specific desire may only exist in his or her imagination. This type of situation is  called an “indefinite antecedent.”

We often talk about our desires in conversation, and love to elaborate on exactly what we want , even though we know that what we want may not actually exist. We already know that wanting and wishing for something in Italian involves uncertainty, and therefore many times we will need to use che with the subjunctive mood in the phrase that follows! In this case, one does not outright state they are making a wish;  instead, what they desire, and the uncertainty that they will find it, is inherent in the first statement.

The most common situations of this type is when someone is looking for a type of person or a particular thing. In Italian, the verb “to look for” is cercare. When a sentence starts with a particular wish of this type, just exactly what one is looking for can be elaborated upon, even if its actual existence has yet to be proven. Here is a case for using the subjunctive mood!

You will notice from the examples below that in English we use the simple present tense in these situations.

Sto cercando una fidanzata che sia intelligente e simpatica.
I am looking for a girlfriend who is intelligent and nice.

Il mio amico cerca un appartamento che abbia due camere da letto.
My friend is looking for an apartment that has two bedrooms.

 

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Italian Adjective Clauses that Modify
Indefinite Antecedents:
“Any”

The Italian subjunctive mode must be used with adjectives or pronouns that include the idea of any in a description of a person, place or thing, such as  qualsiasi, qualunque (any), chiunque (whoever), dovunque (anywhere). These words are listed under #11 above. Here, again, there is some uncertainty as to the person, place, or thing, as the speaker is making a generalization, rather than pointing out someone or something specific.  The subjunctive mood is used directly after these words.

There are many, many situations in which one might use the above words to express the idea of “any.”*  Some examples are listed below.  How many more can you think of?

Mi va bene qualsiasi posto che sia vicino al finestrino per favore.
Any place that is near the window is good for me, please.

Chiunque possa imparare un’altra lingua deve essere molto intelligente.
Anyone who can learn another language must be very intelligent.

Dovunque io vada in Italia è tutto bellissimo!
Anywhere I go in Italy is all very beautiful!

*You may have noticed that qualcuno,  which can mean:“anyone, anybody, someone, somebody” is not included in this list!

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Italian Adjective Clauses that Modify
Negative Antecedents:

If the speaker in a conversation is wishing for someone or something specific, but already knows he or she will not be able to find it, the sentence will begin with “non” to create an antecedent in the negative form.  Interrogative antecedents (when questioning something) can also fall into the negative antecedent category.  We have already mentioned different negative antecedents briefly in #12 of the list in our first section.

The Italian verb that is used in the adjective clause to follow the negative antecedent describe this “nobody” (nessuno) or “nothing” (niente/nulla) that we wish exists, but know does not. Since we are talking about a wish or desire that does not exist, our adjective clause will need be in the  subjunctive form.

Notice in the examples below that English uses the simple present tense for the dependent adjective clause.

Non c’è nessuno a questa festa che io conosca bene.
There is no one at this party that I know well.

Non c’è niente che io voglia comprare in questo negozio.
There is nothing that I want in this store.

Non c’è nulla che tu voglia comprare in questo negozio? 
Is there nothing in this store that you want to buy?

 


Speak Italian: How to Make Sentences with Comparisons in Italian 

A Brief Review of
How to Make Comparisons in Italian

Before we can learn when to use the Italian subjunctive mood in comparative sentences, we must first learn how comparative sentences are structured in Italian.  The material for this section has  been provided by the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and the Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar” books,  found on the website www.Learntravelitaliancom and Amazon.com.

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Grammar Note – Comparatives of Equality
in Italian

Comparison of Two Italian Nouns
with Equivalent
  Descriptors

When comparing two different nouns – people , places, or things – using the same adjective or adverb, to state that their description is equivalent, use the following phrases below.

 

Così and tanto are in parentheses in the examples that follow, as these words can be omitted in conversation.

 

Comparison of Two  Italian Nouns with Equivalent  Descriptors

(così)… come as… as
(tanto)… quanto as much/as well… as

 

Milano è (così) bella come Roma.                   Milan is as beautiful as Rome.

La mia macchina va (tanto) bene,                  My car runs as well as your Ferrari.
quanto la tua Ferrari.                                    

 

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Comparison of Two Equivalent  Italian Nouns

 

When comparing what two different people have, using the same noun, to state that one person has something that is equivalent to what the other person has, use the following phrases below.

 

This pattern will usually appear with the verb avere, to describe what both people have.  Note that tanto must always be used and must agree in gender and number with the noun that it modifies.

 

  Comparison of Two Equivalent Italian Nouns

Tanto(a,i,e)….quanto as much as
as many as

 

Caterina ha tante amiche quante ne ha Anna.             Kathy has as many friends as Anna.

Pietro ha tanti parenti quanti ne ha Caterina.            Peter has as many relatives as Kathy.

 

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Grammar Note – Comparatives of Superiority and Inferiority in Italian

Comparison of Different Characteristics
of the Subject in Italian

When comparing different characteristics of the subject in a sentence, where one characteristic is better or worse than the other, use the following phrases below.  This pattern works for comparisons with adjectives, adverbs, and infinitive verbs.

 

Comparison of Different Characteristics of the Subject in Italian

più… che more… than
meno… che less… than

 

La casa è più grande che bella.                              The house is more large than beautiful.

Caterina ha meno amici che parenti.                 Kathy has fewer friends than relatives.

Mi piace di più studiare che lavorare.                    I like studying more than working.

 

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 Comparison of Different Nouns in Italian

In order to compare two different nouns, i.e. people, places or things, where one has a superior or inferior characteristic, use the following phrases below.  Note that di will combine with the definite article (il, la, lo, or l’) as usual if the definite article is needed in the sentence.

 

 

Comparison of Two Different Nouns in Italian

più…. di more… than
meno… di less… than

 

La casa di Pietro è più grande             Peter’s house is larger than Kathy’s
della casa di Caterina.                             house.

Pietro ha più soldi di Caterina.               Peter has more money than Kathy.

Caterina ha meno soldi di Pietro.            Kathy has less money than Peter.

 Questo vestito è più elegante del tuo vestito.
This dress is more elegant than your dress.

 

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Grammar Note – Relative Superlatives

 

Relative superlatives are descriptions that refer to the most or the least, and are often rendered in English with the ending -est.  In Italian, the equivalent to the most is il più or la più, for masculine and feminine nouns respectively.  The equivalent to the least is il meno or la meno.  The relative superlatives always precede the adjective they modify.

 

When the adjective to be modified comes before the noun, the relative superlative phrases are used with the definite article, as given above.  If the adjective to be modified comes after the noun, the definite article (il, la) is omitted from the relative superlative phrase.  In the second case, the definite article will already be in front of the noun for proper grammar!  See the examples below for how this works.

 

Also, notice that instead of the word in, Italians use di with comparisons, which is often combined with the definite article (il, la, lo, etc.).  Refer to Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar” if you need to learn more about how to combine definite articles with prepositions.

 

Milano è la più bella città d’Italia.           Milan is the most beautiful city in Italy.

                                                   – or –

Milano è la città più bella d’Italia.           Milan is the city (which is) the most
beautiful in Italy.

 

Caterina è la meno alta della famiglia.     Kathy is the least tall in the family.

Pietro è il più alto della famiglia                  Peter is the tallest in the family.

 

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Grammar Note – Absolute Superlatives

 

The absolute superlative ending translates into very or really/extremely, and is used to say that something is simply the best, even beyond comparison.  The ending used to make an adjective into the absolute superlative is -issimo.  Remember from Chapter 6 how molto bene and benissimo both translated into very well/really well?

 

The absolute superlative ending will change to reflect the gender and number of the adjective modified, from –issimo to: -issima, -issimi,or -issime.  The last vowel of the adjective is dropped before adding these endings; buono will become buonissimo, grande will become grandissimo, and bella will become bellissima.

 

Il caffè in Italia è buonissimo.                             The coffee in Italy is really good.

I palazzi a Milano sono grandissimi.                The buildings in Milan are extremely big.

Milano è una bellissima città.                              Milan is a very beautiful city.

Le fontane sono bellissime.                                  The fountains are really beautiful.

 


Speak Italian: The Subjunctive Mood with Comparison Italian Adjective Clauses 

Italian Adjective Clauses that Modify
Absolute Superlatives

Now that we have reviewed how to make comparisons in Italian, we are ready to discuss how to use absolute superlative phrases with the Italian subjunctive mood.  In short, if you describe a person, place, or thing, and then want to say that this is “the best” you have ever seen, heard, met,  etc. you must use the  subjunctive!

For the speaker, at the point in time of the conversation, this is the best he or she has experienced; although one might say there is always the possibility that this opinion could change in the future.  Someone or something else may come along that is even better! And, where there is uncertainty, we need to use the subjunctive mood!

Some examples follow. Notice the use of the word “mai” to mean “ever,” which reinforces the idea of “the most.”

Since the speaker is talking about what they have experienced, the subjunctive verb conjugation must also be in the past.  In this examples below the form used is the passato congiuntivo.

The last example has been structured as a question, since we often ask others about their best experiences to date!

La Sicilia è l’isola più bella che io abbia mai visto.
Sicily is the most beautiful island that I have ever seen.

Mia madre è la donna più brava che io abbia mai incontrato.
My mother is the most wonderful woman that I have ever met.

Questa è la più bella sinfonia che io abbia mai sentito.
This is the most beautiful symphony that I have ever heard.

È questa la più bella sinfonia che tu abbia mai sentito?
Is this the most beautiful symphony that you have ever heard?

 

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Italian Adjective Clauses that Modify
Equivalents to Absolute Superlatives:
“Unico, Solo, Primo, Ultimo”

 

There are single Italian adjectives that can be considered to be “equivalent” to the absolute superlatives.  We have listed some above in the first section under Number 12 as the words which mean “only”:  unico, solo, a che uno. To these words we add primo, which means “first” and “ultimo,” which means “last.”  

When using the above Italian adjectives as absolute superlatives, their endings must agree in gender and number to the noun they modify (the same as for all Italian adjectives). The placement of the adjective will be between the definite article (il, la, lo, l’, etc.) and the noun it modifies.  Notice that these adjectives can be plural, since sometimes a group of things may be involved in the statement.

Check out the singular and plural forms of these absolute superlative adjectives below. You will remember from beginning Italian that  the  ending of the adjective primo changes since it is a cardinal number, and primo has regular endings. The adjectives solo and ultimo also have regular endings.

The adjective ultimo has an irregular in pronunciation in the plural masculine form (gli unici) and an irregular in spelling to preserve the pronunciation in the plural feminine form (le uniche).

l’unico l’unica gli unici le uniche
il solo la sola i soli le sole
il primo la prima i primi le prime
l’ultimo l’ultima gli ultimi le ultime

 

Some example sentences using unico, solo, primo, and ultimo are given below.  These words can be used in many different situations to make complex, descriptive sentences.  How many more can you think of?

Lui è l’unico ragazzo che mi piaccia nel mio paese.
He is the only boy that I like in my town.

Questa casa è l’unica casa che io abbia visto dipinta tutto in giallo.
This house is the only house that I have seen painted all in yellow.

Quella soluzione è solamente la prima soluzione che dobbiamo considerare.
This solution is only the first solution that we must consider.

L’Ultima Cena è l’ultimo quadro che Leonardo da Vinci abbia dipinto con la tempera.
The Last Supper is the last painting that Leonardo da Vinci painted with tempera (egg-based paint).


Speak Italian: How to Say “Both… and…”  with the Conjunction “Sia” 

How to Use
the Italian Conjunction
“Sia…  che…” to say “Both.. and…”

To finish our blog on adjective phrases, we now mention a way to link two nouns or verbs within a single descriptive phrase — use the Italian word sia as a conjunction!

By now, we have become used to using the word “sia”  as the present tense singular subjunctive  form of essere, as we’ve learned way back in the first blog on this topic. But we now mention that the Italian word sia can also be used as a conjunction , which is a  simple linking word.

In effect, Italian word sia does double duty as both a verb and a conjunction!

In sentences where one wants to express both… and…, in effect linking two equal alternatives  to one another in one phrase,  the first alternative is introduced with the conjunction sia  and the second alternative follows after the word  che.   In this case the word “che” is translated into English with the word  “and.” 

In some instances, this idea may also be communicated by using the conjunction sia twice, with the phrase sia… sia….  It is more common in spoken italian to hear sia…che…, although in a very few sentences  you might hear sia…sia…, which is perfectly correct too.  One sentence where the sia… sia… combination is used frequently refers to films that are adapted to two specific groups of people,  young and old:  “Il film è adatto sia a un pubblico adulto sia a un pubblico giovane.” 

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How to Make Phrases with
“Sia…  che…” to say “Both.. and…”

To form a phrase with the Italian conjunction sia is easy.  When we would say, “both… and..” in English, just substitute “sia… che…” in Italian.  A noun can be linked with a noun or a verb can be linked with a verb to show that there are two separate but equal possibilities for a single situation. Just use the sia… che combination!

Remember to use the Italian definite article with each noun that follows the conjugation sia, as is usual for Italian nouns.  The exception will be when using the Italian preposition “in” to go into a country, region or state, or large island like Sicily, as is usual for situations of this type.

Remember to use the infinitive form of the Italian verb that follows the conjugation sia, and conjugate only the main verb in the sentence.

The dependent phrase with sia…che… can be used as the subject of the sentence itself, especially when two people are the subject. In this case, the verb is conjugated in the third person plural form.  If this is confusing, just substitute “they” for the subject!

But, above all…

Don’t fall into the trap of translating the English
words “both” and “and” directly into Italian.
Instead, use “sia… che…”!

For instance:

Mi piace parlare sia l’italiano che l’inglese.
I like to speak  both  (the) Italian and (the) English (languages).

Mi piace viaggiare sia in Italia che in America.
I like traveling, both in Italy and in America.

Io devo sia comprare che incartare il regalo prima di andare al lavoro stasera.
I have to both buy and wrap the gift before going to work tonight.

Sia Marco che Maria (Loro) mi hanno invitato alla festa di compleanno di Julia.
Both Mark and Mary (They) have invited me to Julia’s birthday party.

 


 

 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books and a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

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Italian Subjunctive (Part 6): Situations for Italian Adjective Clauses and Comparisons

Two oval, white bowls of Chicken Soup, one with Chicken Egg Drop Soup and the other with Pastina Soup on a colorful tablecloth with fall pumpkin theeme

Italian Chicken Broth: Make Egg Drop Soup or Make it with Pastina Stars

Italian Chicken Broth: Egg Drop Soup or Pastina Stars

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog Italian chicken broth with wispy strands of  eggs is called “Egg Drop Soup” at my family’s home but is known better as Stracciatella, or “Rags Soup.” For the perfect children’s chicken soup, instead add tiny pastas called pastina stars to your homemade chicken broth. Which is better?  Make them both and you decide!

Italian Chicken Broth: Egg Drop Soup or Pastina Stars  

When I was a child, my mother’s chicken soup was a welcome treat that accompanied the cool breezes of fall and sustained us through the cold winter months.  We children loved when she returned home from the “chicken farm” down the road with stewing chickens because we knew that her delicious chicken soup would soon follow!

Italian chicken soup starts with a hearty chicken broth, or “brodo.”  Chicken broth is simplicity to make, with just a few ingredients most home cooks have around the house.  My mother would drizzle beaten eggs into her chicken broth to make wispy yellow strands of scrambled eggs, for “Egg Drop Soup” as my family called it,  also known by its more traditional name of  “Stracciatella “ or “Rags Soup.”  And, I think every Italian adult has fond memories  of their lunches at home as a young child, especially when they discovered tiny star-shaped “pastina” pastas  in their chicken broth for “Pastina Soup!”

To make the most flavorful Italian chicken soup, start with a broth made with “stewing” chickens.  Stewing chickens are the older, tougher chickens that will soften but not loose their flavor entirely and make a nice broth after  even just 1 to 1 1/2 hours of cooking in liquid.  The meat of stewing chickens usually can be removed from the bones and added to the soup if desired. Younger frying or broiling chickens can also be used to make chicken broth, but in this case the cooking time should be increased to 2 or 3 hours and by this time most of the chicken’s flavor will have been given up to the soup, rendering the chicken flavorless.

Italian moms know that adding a small tomato will make the chicken broth sweeter, a small potato will add a little starch for body, and if you leave the outer leaves on the onion the broth will become a golden color.   Try my family’s simple method and I’m sure your children will agree: Italian chicken soup is the quintessential comfort food!

—Kathryn Occhipinti


Italian Chicken Broth with Egg Drop Soup or  Pastina Stars 

 

Italian Chicken Broth or “Brodo”

Ingredients
(Makes about 16-18 cups)

1 stewing chicken, 3-4 lbs., rinsed, quartered
with fat trimmed off
4 carrots,  rinsed and chopped coarsely
2 celery sticks,  rinsed and cut in half
1 onion, (skin on or off), rinsed and cut in half
1 small tomato, quartered
1 small waxy potato (not russet), yellow or red
Optional: Small bundle of fresh parsley stalks from garden
salt  to taste

Method for Italian Chicken Broth

Rinse the stewing chicken well. Ask the butcher to quarter it for you, or cut the chicken into quarters if needed. Rinse again to clean off again.

(Additional step if desired to give a clearer broth: Pre-cook the chicken briefly: Put chicken in a pot of cold water and bring to the boil slowly. Skim off the foam that comes to the top, then discard the water and continue with the rest of the method.)

Place the quartered chicken into a large soup pot. Add cold water 3/4 to the top of the pot.

Add the carrots, celery, onion, tomato and potato.

Bring to the boil and then quickly turn down heat to keep the broth cooking at a simmer.

Continue to cook the soup uncovered. Skim off any “skuzz” or “foam” that floats to the top periodically, but do not stir the broth, which will yield a cloudy soup.

When the soup has cooked  down to desired flavor — at least 1 1/2 to 2 hours, remove the chicken and the vegetables.

Taste the chicken and if it remains flavorful, remove it from the bones and reserve the meat to add to the soup if desired.  The vegetables will usually lose all their flavor and should be discarded and new, finely-chopped vegetables added to the finished soup.  (If not, the soup should probably be cooked for a little longer time, but that is of course a matter of taste!)

Strain the broth to remove any small particles that may have formed.

(Additional step that can be omitted: If you do not need the broth right away, or if on a low-fat diet, store the strained broth  in a pot in the refrigerator.  By the next  day, the fat will have floated to the top and hardened and can easily be skimmed off with a spoon.)

Add salt to the broth as desired and then finish as below and make into a soup.

 


Italian Egg Drop Soup

Ingredients
(Makes about 4 cups)

4 cups  Italian chicken broth, homemade or canned
2 eggs, beaten lightly
1/4 cup  finely grated Parmesan cheese
salt to taste
Optional: Fresh parsley stalk and leaves from garden for garnish

 

Method for Egg Drop Soup*

Use a small bowl or large measuring cup with a spout, if possible.  Mix the eggs and Parmesan cheese together lightly.

Place the 4 cups of cold chicken broth into a pot that can hold about 6 cups.

Adjust salt as desired.

Use medium-low heat to gradually bring the broth to a boil. Watch closely as the broth comes to a boil.

When small bubbles start to appear, and the broth is almost at a simmer,  while mixing, drizzle the egg/cheese mixture into the pot slowly, allowing the eggs to cook briefly before adding more of the mixture.

When all egg has been added and partially cooked, mix lightly with a fork to keep the egg separated until the egg has completely cooked.

Watch the Instagram video below to see this method in action!

 

View this post on Instagram

Italian chicken broth “brodo” and chicken egg drop soup or chicken soup with pastina. Moms love to make it and kids love to eat it on a chilly day! Broth: 1 stewing chicken, carrots, celery, onion (peeled or not for yellow color), small potato, one tomato quartered. Egg drop soup: 4 cups chicken broth. Add salt to taste. Add slowly just before boiling: 2 eggs lightly beaten with 1/4 c Parmesan cheese. Stir until cooked through. For Pastina: Boil broth snd add Pastina Pasta. Fresh parsley from garden should still be available if desired as parsley loves the cool weather. Buon appetito! #osnap #italiansoup @niafitalianamerican @chicagolanditalians @sons_of_italy @osia_su #italianfoodblogger #italianfoodbloggers #italianfoodbloggers🍷🍕🇮🇹 #chickensoup #chickensouprecipe #chickensouprecipes #brodo #italianbrodo #italianchickensoup #strattiacella #chickeneggdropsoup #eggdropsoup #pastinainbrodo #pastinasoup #pastinasoupforlunch For more #Italianrecipes visit www.Learntravelitalian.com

A post shared by Kathryn Occhipinti (@conversationalitalian.french) on

 

*For an alternative method, that will yield small strands of egg mixed more completely into the soup, called Stracciatella soup,  omit the Parmesan cheese.  Mix about 1 cup of the warm broth into the lightly mixed eggs and then pour all of the egg/broth mixture into the warm broth.  Bring to a boil and watch the smaller egg strands form.

To make larger “rags,” omit the Parmesan cheese and very lightly beat the egg mixture so that some of the white remains visible.  Bring the soup to a low boil, and drizzle in the egg mixture a bit at a time while stirring gently with a fork.

When the egg is cooked through, it is ready to eat, topped with Parmesan cheese of course!


 

Italian Pastina Soup for Children

Ingredients
(Makes about 4 cups)

4 cups  Italian chicken broth, homemade or canned
1/3 cup pastina (little stars) pasta

 

Method for Pastina Soup for Children

For 4 cups of chicken broth, use 1/3 cup pastina star pasta

Place the 4 cups of cold chicken broth into a pot that can hold about 6 cups.

Cook as you would for any other pasta:

Set the chicken broth on the stove over medium high heat and heat to a rolling boil.

Add salt to taste,  cover, bring to boil again, and then uncover and add pastina pasta.

Stir pasta, cover and bring to a boil again.

Take cover off and stir.

Let the pasta cook until al-dente (“to the tooth”). In this case, you will see the pasta stars grow.  When pasta has finished cooking, ladle the soup into a bowl .

Present to small children with Italian bread for a warm and satisfying lunch!

— by Kathryn Occhipinti


 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books and a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1  and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet @travelitalian1 for Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
Learn Conversational Italian.

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on Facebook Stella Lucente Italian and Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian.
Facebook Stella Lucente Italian

Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Italian Chicken Broth: Make Egg Drop Soup or Make it with Pastina Stars

Pasta and zucchini

Zucchini with Pasta Made Two Ways

Zucchini with Pasta Made Two Ways

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog  Zucchini with Pasta  is a classic combination, either alone or paired with  fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes and basil for a summer vegetable treat!

Zucchini and My Italian-American Gardening Family 

Growing up as I did with two Italian-American parents means that  to me, summertime will always be the time for gardening—and enjoying the fresh vegetables and fruits of that garden!

As I’ve written in my last blog under Italian and Italian-American Recipes, both sides of my Italian family have established summer vegetable gardens here in America.  My grandfather was a master gardener, and used knowledge he brought over from Sicily to create his perfect garden in a very small patch of land in Brooklyn, New York.

Most of my grandfather’s yard was dedicated to all kinds of  vegetables and fruits, perfectly staked  in neat rows so that no space was lost on his small plot of land. There were all kinds of tomatoes, both large and small, and green and red peppers of all types.  Vines of zucchini, or in Italian, molte zucchine, were somehow trained to grow  between the rows of tomatoes and peppers.  My grandfather grew the “typical” dark green zucchini found in all American supermarkets today, harvested at about 5-6″ long.

Recently, though, I’ve learned of a squash called cucuzza, which is so popular in the south of Italy that the word cucuzza has replaced the word  zucchine when people talk about squash grown in the summertime.  Read below for some “fun facts” about this type of squash and Italian-American culture.

Zucchini and Italian Culture

Cucuzza – The Famous Italian Summer Squash

Image from www.specialtyproduce.com

A famous long, thin, light green squash that is harvested in the summer from southern Italy and Sicily is known as “cucuzza.”  Cucuzza (pronounced “goo-gooz” in  Sicilian dialect) typically grows from 1 to 3 feet. Unlike a true summer squash, the skin from this squash must be peeled before cooking.  There is a well-known Sicilian proverb that states, “Cucinala come vuoi, sempre cucuzza è!” meaning, “However you cook it, it’s still just squash!” 

Cucuzza is also used as an endearing term for a young girl in a 1950’s Italian novelty song sung by Louis Prima called, “My Cucuzza.”  He sings about the vegetable, Cucuza grows in Italy down on the farm.  It’s something like zucchini flavored with Italian charm… I call my girl cucuzza because she’s as sweet as can be.”  To hear the song sung by Louis Prima in it’s entirety, click this My Cucuzza link.


Zucchini with Pasta Made Two Ways

To continue with the story of my family, while my grandfather was busy gardening, my grandmother was busy in the kitchen!  She created wonderful dishes from zucchini, which was a favorite summer vegetable in my mother’s house and is in my house today.

Pasta with zucchini and fresh tomatoes and basil is a classic Italian combination that my grandmother and mother made frequently. In this dish, chopped tomatoes are cooked in olive oil just to soften, and left chunky, which is different than the more usual pureed tomato sauce of winter in Southern Italian households. In the recipe below, I’ve used bow-tie pasta, which makes it fun for kids of all ages to eat their zucchini! Note that basil, not oregano,  is the herb of choice for any type of pasta and “fresh tomato sauce” combination.

My mother recently remembered my grandmother’s summer version of   “Spaghetti Aglio Olio,” or spaghetti with garlic in olive oil, which was modified in the summer to include zucchini slices fried gently in the garlic-flavored olive oil until a light golden color.  I made this simple recipe for my family’s dinner one recent summer evening, and topped with Parmesan cheese it quickly disappeared.

Yes, with the zucchini and pasta combination recipes that I share below, children of all ages will love to eat their vegetables! I hope your family enjoys this zucchini recipes as much as my family does!  -Kathryn Occhipinti


Zucchini with Pasta and  Fresh Tomatoes and Basil

Zucchini and Pasta
Zucchini with Bow Tie Pasta and Fresh Tomato-Basil Sauce

Ingredients
(Serves 1-4)

3 cloves of garlic, chopped coarsely
2 medium-size zucchini, chopped coarsely
4 plumb tomatoes, chopped coarsely
1 large bunch of fresh basil,
leaves stripped from stems and hand-torn
1 box (1 lb.) bow-tie pasta, cooked al-dente
1/2 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
salt to taste

 

Method

Set a pot of water on the stove to boil for making the spaghetti.  When the water does boil, add salt, cover, bring to boil again, and then uncover and add bow-tie pasta. Stir pasta, cover and bring to a boil again. Take cover off and stir.  Let the pasta cook until al-dente (“to the tooth”), or slightly firm, stirring occasionally,  while you cook the zucchini below.

The rest of the dish is made in a large frying pan with high sides.

Add enough olive oil to almost cover the frying pan and then heat gently on medium-high heat.

Add chopped garlic and let soften.

Add chopped zucchini and a sprinkle of salt, and let soften, stirring frequently, so the zucchini does not burn, but browns lightly.

Add chopped tomatoes and freshly torn basil leaves, and stir.

Add a bit of the pasta water and turn the heat down to simmer.  Let the sauce cook for 10 – 15 minutes, until all vegetables have softened, but are still a bit firm, stirring frequently.

When the “sauce” is ready, drain the pasta and add to the frying pan.  Depending on the size of zucchinis and tomatoes you use, you may have a little less or more sauce than needed for 1 lb. of pasta.  Add “enough” pasta to the frying pan so when it is mixed it is coated lightly with the “sauce.”

Add the coarsely grated Parmesan cheese and mix again.  Salt to taste.

Serve with additional grated Parmesan cheese on the side and enjoy!

Check out my Instagram post if you’d like to see me actively making this zucchini and pasta dish.  A delicious dinner or side dish will be ready in no time with this classic Italian combination!

View this post on Instagram

Zucchini and Tomatoes with Pasta. Use your fresh garden vegetables to make this easy and delicious authentic Italian pasta dish. Your kids will love eating their vegetables! Use 3 cloves of garlic, 2 medium size zucchini, 4 plum tomatoes, fresh basil leaves torn, and 1 lb. box of bowtie pasta. 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, salt to taste. Add salted pasta water as vegetables cook and then after adding pasta, as needed……………………………………….. #osnap #italianstyle #italianfood #pasta #pastaandzucchini #pastaandzucchinis #zucchiniandpasta #zucchinirecipes #andzucchini #zucchinipasta #pastasitalianas #foodblogger #foodie #italianstyle🇮🇹 #italiancooking #italianrecipe🇮🇹 #Italianrecipes #italianvegetables #italianvegetarian #vegetarianitalian @niafitalianamerican @osia_su @chicagolanditalians

A post shared by Kathryn Occhipinti (@conversationalitalian.french) on

 

 


 

Zucchini with Spaghetti Aglio Olio
(Zucchini with Spaghetti in Garlic and Olive Oil)

Ingredients
(Serves 1-4)

 

3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 to 4  medium sized zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
(cut the zucchini cross-wise from one end to the other,
as in photo of cucuzza above)
1 lb. of spaghetti
1/2 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
salt to taste

Method

Set a pot of water on the stove to boil for making the spaghetti.  When the water does boil, add salt, cover, bring to boil again, and then uncover and add spaghetti. Stir spaghetti, cover and bring to a boil again. Take cover off and stir.  Let the spaghetti cook until al-dente (“to the tooth”), or slightly firm, stirring occasionally,  while you cook the zucchini below.

The rest of the dish is made in a large frying pan with high sides.

Add enough olive oil to almost cover the frying pan and then heat gently on medium-high heat.

Add the crushed garlic cloves and let soften to flavor the oil.

Add sliced zucchini, spreading over the pan in one layer, so the zucchini can fry in the oil evenly.  You will need to do this in 2 or more batches if cooking more zucchini slices than the size pan you have can accomodate.

After a about 5 minutes, when the zucchini rounds have softened, turn and let the other side soften.

Continue to cook until zucchini rounds have shrunk and turned a light, golden brown.

When the zucchini is ready, drain the spaghetti and put into a large serving bowl.

Add the fried zucchini from the pan,  without draining the olive oil from the zucchini rounds. Mix. Add additional olive oil from the pan as needed to coat the spaghetti lightly and evenly.

Add the coarsely grated Parmesan cheese and mix again.  Salt to taste.

Serve with additional grated Parmesan cheese on the side and enjoy!

Check out my Instagram site (soon to be posted) if you’d like to see me actively making zucchini and spaghetti aglio olio.  A delicious dinner or side dish will be ready in no time with this classic Italian combination!

— by Kathryn Occhipinti

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books and a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1 and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
YouTube Stella Lucente Italian, LLC

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on Facebook Stella Lucente Italian and Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian.
Facebook Stella Lucente Italian

Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Zucchini with Pasta Two Ways

Tomato, Mozzarella, and fresh basil salad

Caprese and Panzanella Salads with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil

Caprese and Panzanella Salads with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog  Caprese and Panzanella Salads  are what Italians make with their fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes and basil for a summer salad treat!

My Italian-American Gardening Family 

Growing up as I did with two Italian-American parents means that  to me, summertime will always be the time for gardening—and enjoying the fresh vegetables and fruits of that garden!

Both sides of my Italian family have established summer vegetable gardens here in America.  My grandfather was a master gardener, and used knowledge he brought over from Sicily to create his perfect garden in a very small patch of land in Brooklyn, New York.  As a small child, I knew that my fondest memories of summer would begin as I opened the large, decorative, black iron gate to enter what to me was a miraculous place – my grandparent’s a two story attached brick building that had my grandfather’s grape vines growing happily along the only free side.  Out back, there was a small cement landing where the family gathered amid large decorative clay pots of herbs, with a pergola for the ripened grapes to hang from and provide shade, of course!

The rest of my grandfather’s yard was dedicated to all kinds of  vegetables and fruits, perfectly staked  in neat rows so that no space was lost on his small plot of land.  I loved picking the  perfectly red, vine-ripened tomatoes, green peppers and fresh, soft  purple figs to take home. Yes, my grandfather even managed to keep fig trees alive during the cold NYC winters by bundling the branches up a pail and covering them with blankets, just so we could enjoy baskets of fresh figs for the summer. And enjoy them we did!

While my grandfather was busy gardening, my grandmother was busy in the kitchen!  She created wonderful tomato salads  for summertime with our fresh tomatoes and our favorite herb—basil, with its leaves freshly  pinched off  right from the stem of the plant. Even today, the women in my family keep a small pot or glass with water by the kitchen window with cuttings of fresh basil ready to make a cool tomato Caprese salad or a Panzanella salad for lunch.

Caprese and Panzanella Salads

Making Caprese and Panzanella salads entails following a couple of simple methods, using whatever you have on hand, rather than following a strict recipe step by step. However, it is best to come as close as possible to the recommended ingredients, as the ingredients themselves will be the stars of each dish.

For the most mouth-watering Caprese salad imaginable, use fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes and soft, fresh buffalo mozzarella.  Coarse sea salt adds extra flavor to the tomatoes. Top all with a generous drizzle of your favorite pungent or fruity, extra-virgin olive oil from Italy, rather than the a more bland olive oil that you would use for cooking on the stove top.

For Panzanella salad, which probably originated as a clever way to use up day-old, stale bread, be sure to use a crusty loaf of Italian bread and make sure it has time to dry out.  If you want, drizzle the bead with a little bit of olive oil and brown in the oven, either before or after cutting into cubes. The mozzarella for this salad should be a firm mozzarella, as it needs to be cubed and mixed in with the other ingredients.  I prefer my panzanella salad with hard cubes of bread; if you like, use the drippings from the fresh tomatoes to soften the bread.

And, of course, large, sweet, fresh basil leaves from the garden are an essential ingredient to both salads!

But whatever ingredients you have on hand, I’m sure you will enjoy these simple and refreshing tomato and basil salads on a hot summer day!  -Kathyn Occhipinti


Caprese Salad

 

Tomato, basil and mozzarella caprese salad
Italian Caprese Salad, with layers of tomato, buffalo mozzarella and basil leaves ready to share

Ingredients
(Serves 1-4)

3 large, vine-ripened tomatoes,
(each a different color to add interest;
heirloom tomatoes if desired)
Sea salt

Fresh buffalo mozzarella, sliced
Large, whole, freshly picked basil leaves
Extra-virgin olive oil from Italy

 

Method

In an individual or large dish, create colorful layers of tomato slices (sprinkled with sea salt), mozzarella slices, and basil leaves.

If making in a large plate of Caprese salad for a crowd, have the tomato and mozzarella slices lengthwise once they are assembled and place a piece of mozzarella in the center to create a “flower” pattern, as in the picture above.  Decorate with extra basil.

Let sit for about 15 minutes for the tomato juices to develop. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.

Serve with Italian bread to mop up the tomato juices and enjoy!

Check out my Instagram post if you’d like to see me actively making a Caprese salad that can be shared by two people.  Remember, the correct choice of  ingredients is the key to this simple “salad.  A touch of sea-salt to bring the juices out of the tomatoes that provide the acid for the “vinaigrette” and a drizzle of your favorite extra-virgin olive oil makes an exquisite summertime treat!

 

View this post on Instagram

Caprese Salad: Let’s use our fresh basil (basilico), heirloom tomatoes, and buffalo mozzarella with extra virgin olive oil to make this flavorful salad from the Italian island of Capri. The secret is very ripe tomatoes and a little sea salt to allow the tomato juices to escape and blend with the olive oil. Buon appetito! #osnap #chicagogardening #chicagogardener #chicagogarden #italyinamerica #italiangardenstyle #basil #basilico #basilico🌱 #basilsalad #tomatoandbasil #tomatobasil #basilandtomato #basilandtomatoes #freshbasilandtomatoes #buffalomozzarella #buffalomozzarellacheese #buffalomozzarellasalad @chicagolanditalians @niafitalianamerican @sons_of_italy #freshsummersalad #freshsummertomoatoes #italianfood #italiangardens #italianfood

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Panzanella Salad

Tomato and bread Panzanella salad
Italian Panzanella salad with halved cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, fresh torn basil and bread

Ingredients
(Serves 1-4)

1-2 large, vine-ripened tomato, cut into small wedges
or several cherry tomatoes, halved
Sea salt

Mozzarella, cubed
Large, freshly picked basil leaves, torn
Dry Italian bread, cubed
(from the day before or browned in the oven)
Italian extra-virgin olive oil
Optional: Add 1/2 red onion, chopped coarsely
Optional: Drizzle with Italian red wine vinegar

Method

In a large dish, combine small wedges of fresh tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, torn basil leaves, and dry Italian bread.  If using the optional chopped red onion, it can be added at this point.

Mix gently.

Drizzle on extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with fresh sea salt to taste.

Mix again gently to combine all and enjoy!

Optional: Drizzle bread with olive oil and brown in oven prior to or after cutting and mixing with other ingredients.

Optional: After cutting tomatoes, put into a colander, add salt and mix. Put a bowl that contains the bread cubes under the colander.   Allow the bowls to stand at room temperature until tomato juices form and drip onto the bread to soften the bread.

Optional: Add a drizzle of  Italian red wine vinegar along with the olive oil.

— by Kathryn Occhipinti

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books and a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1 and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
YouTube Stella Lucente Italian, LLC

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on Facebook Stella Lucente Italian and Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian.
Facebook Stella Lucente Italian

Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Caprese and Panzanella Salads with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil

Textbook Conversational Italian for Travelers

Speak Italian: Passato Remoto—Let’s Tell a Story!

Speak Italian: Passato Remoto—Let’s Tell a Story! 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog                          Everything you need to know
to tell your family’s story… in Italian!

 

Speak Italian: Passato Remoto—Let’s Tell a Story!  

Can you speak Italian? By now, many of you have passed the beginning stages of learning to speak Italian and can read and comprehend quite a bit of the language. Meraviglioso!

But have you tried to take the next step to speak Italian fluently? Can you tell the story of your family history in Italian, using the passato remoto past tense?   

Can you speak Italian the way you would speak in your native language, with complex and varied sentences? This is more difficult than it may seem at first, and it is something that I am always working on!

This series will focus on the situations that have come up most frequently in my everyday conversations with Italian instructors and friends. The “Speak Italian” blog series will focus on the type of sentence structure and vocabulary we all need to remember to be more fluent when we speak Italian!

Let’s take that giant step from simple beginning sentences to more complex and fluid sentences in Italian by learning how to use the different Italian past tenses more easily. In this segment, we will focus on the  Italian passato remoto past tense and describe the similarities and differences between the passato remoto and the passato prossimo and imperfetto past tenses.

Included in the dialogue for this blog post are examples of Italian hypothetical phrases in the past tense, reprinted from a previous blog post on this topic.

If you need to refresh your memory on when to use the passato prossimo form of the past tense versus when to use the imperfetto, please visit the third blog post in this series, Speak Italian: A Story About… Love!

 

Speak Italian: Passato Remoto—Let’s Tell a Story! 

In the “Speak Italian” blog series, first, a short essay or dialogue in Italian will be presented about a commonly used topic of conversation.

Then, we will review the Italian grammar that is necessary to talk about the particular topic in detail.

And finally, if you want, ask a relative about the story of your own family history, then write it in Italian using the Italian passato remoto.

Remember these examples as “anchors” in your knowledge for when you must speak Italian in your next conversation!

Enjoy the fourth topic in this series, “Speak Italian: Passato Remoto—Let’s Tell a Story!”
—Kathryn Occhipinti

Some of this material is adapted from our textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC, found on www.learntravelitalian.com. Special thanks to Italian language instructor Maria Vanessa Colapinto.

 


Speak Italian: Passato Remoto—Let’s Tell a Story!  

In the dialogue to follow, we listen in on a conversation between an Italian mother and her daughter, Francesca and Maria, who are preparing a welcoming party for an Italian-American relative who is visiting the family for the first time. You may remember the characters from our recent Italian Subjunctive Mood Practice blog posts.

When reading the example dialogue below, notice the use of the imperfetto past tense (for making general statements about the past) and the passato remoto past tense (for describing actions that began and were completed in the past).  The use of these tenses shifts from one to the other while Frances is narrating the story of her family, depending on the situation that is described. The passato remoto past tense verbs will be underlined.

You will notice Italian hypothetical phrases in the past tense in this dialogue as well,  which will use the imperfetto subjunctive mode and the trapassato past tense, because this dialogue is a reprint from a former blog post on Italian hypothetical phrases. If you would like to review how to make Italian hypothetical phrases in the past tense, please see our blog post Italian Subjunctive (Part 5).

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Speak Italian: Passato Remoto
The Story of a Family Reunion

It was a lovely spring day in April in the mountains of Abruzzo. Frances and her daughter Mary met at Frances’ house to plan a party.

Era un bel giorno di aprile nelle montagne abruzzesi. Francesca e sua figlia, che si chiama Maria, si sono incontrate a casa di Francesca per organizzare una festa.  

They wanted this party to be very special because Francesca’s cousin Rudy, who lives in America, was coming to Italy for the first time.
Loro volevano che questa festa fosse bellissima,  perché il cugino di Francesca, Rudy, che abita in America, veniva a visitare l’Italia per la prima volta.

 

“Tell me again how Great Uncle Mark, cousin Rudy’s grandfather, saved our family in Italy,” Mary asked her mother.

“Raccontami ancora come il prozio Marco, il nonno del cugino Rudolfo, ha salvato la nostra famiglia in Italia,” Maria ha chiesto a sua madre.

 

Frances replied (to her) with the following story:

Francesca le ha risposto con la storia qui di seguito:

 

Great Grandmother Mary had a brother whose name was Mark.

La bisnonna Maria aveva un fratello, che si chiamava Marco.

 

Great Uncle Mark left Italy and went to live in America with his family in 1920.

Il prozio Marco lasciò l’Italia e andò a vivere in America con la sua famiglia nel 1920.

 

He had to leave Italy to find work, because after World War I, there was no work in Italy.

Dovette lasciare l’Italia per trovare lavoro, perché dopo la Prima Guerra Mondiale, non c’era lavoro in Italia.

 

Right after Uncle Mark had left Italy, Great Grandmother’s husband died, and she was left all alone to raise their three children.

Subito dopo che lo zio Marco lasciò l’Italia, il marito della bisnonna morì, e lei era da sola a crescere i suoi tre figli.

 

In Italy in the early 1900s, if a woman didn’t have a husband, usually she was not able to support her family.

In Italia negli anni del primo novecento, se una donna non aveva un marito, normalmente non poteva mantenere la famiglia.

 

At that time, if a woman wanted to work, she could be a teacher or a seamstress.

A quel tempo, se una donna voleva lavorare, poteva fare l’insegnante o la sarta.

 

Grandmother Mary was a teacher before she was married.

La bisnonna Maria era un’insegnante prima di sposarsi.

 

But with three children, it was not possible for her to leave the house to work.

Ma con tre figli, non era possibile per lei uscire di casa per lavorare.

 

So Uncle Mark worked in America and sent money to Italy.

E così, lo zio Marco lavorava in America e mandava i soldi in Italia.

 

If Uncle Mark had not sent money to Grandmother Mary, she and the children could have starved to death.

Se lo zio Marco non avesse mandato i soldi alla bisnonna Maria, lei e i figli sarebbero potuti morire di fame.

 

At the end of this story, Mary said, “And if Uncle Mark had not helped Grandmother Mary, you and I would not be here today!”

Alla fine della storia, Maria ha detto, “E se lo zio Marco non avesse aiutato la bisnonna Maria, tu e io non saremmo qui oggi!”

 

“Probably not,” replied Frances. “But fortunately, Uncle Mark was a good person. And so is our cousin Rudy. Let’s organize a wonderful party!”

“Probabilmente no,” ha risposto Francesca.  “Ma fortunatamente, lo zio Marco era una persona perbene.  E anche nostro cugino Rudy è così.  Organizziamo una festa meravigliosa!”

 


Speak Italian: Grammar You Will Need to Know to Narrate a Story

The “Passato Remoto”

The Italian passato remoto past tense is used in textbooks to describe historical events that took place centuries ago and is used in textbooks that describe art history.

Outside of scholarly works written in Italian, the passato remoto is still commonly found as a narrative tool in novels and other forms of fiction written today.

In fiction today, the author of a novel will often use the passato remoto form for the voice of the narrator. The passato remoto is useful for the “detached” feeling it gives to the narration in descriptive passages that relate completed events in the “remote past” of a character’s life. The passato prossimo is the past tense form usually used by the characters during their conversations, in order to give a “realistic” feeling to the dialogue.

The English translation for the passato remoto is the simple past tense, because English does not have an equivalent tense to the passato remoto. In effect, the different Italian past tenses can express certain shades of meaning that cannot be expressed by the past tense verb forms in English.

Although the passato remoto and the passato prossimo are used to evoke different feelings in the reader of an Italian novel, grammatically speaking, the passato remoto can be considered interchangeable with the passato prossimo. This is because both past tense verb types describe completed events that took place during a given period of time in the past.

Note that the imperfetto remains important for works of fiction as well because the passato remoto cannot be used to replace the imperfetto! We remember that the imperfetto is used to describe an ongoing action or event, and we have just reviewed that the passato prossimo describes completed actions or events. For a review of the specific uses of the imperfetto, please refer to our blog post Speak Italian: A Story About… Love!

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Because our focus to this point has been on conversational, rather than written, Italian, a common convention regarding stories told in conversation should be noted here. In English and Italian, the present tense is very often used to tell a story that the speakers understand to have happened in the past. For instance:

            Kathy (past tense to introduce setting): “Yesterday, I met Janice.
Kathy continues (switch to present tense to tell the story): “And she says to me… And then I say to her…”

This simplifies matters—no complex, little-used past tense is needed to tell a story! But if one wants to expand his or her conversational Italian to include the ability to narrate a story about the past formally, the passato remoto is an important tense to learn.

********************

We should also note here that in certain southern regions, particularly in Sicily, it is the normal convention to use the passato remoto instead of the passato prossimo. In these regions, the idea that the passato remoto should be reserved for remote events or narration is not adhered to, and the passato remoto is instead chosen to speak about any past event that took place within a given period of time.

 


Speak Italian: “Passato Remoto” Past Tense
You Will Need to Know…

“Passato Remoto”—”Avere” and “Essere”

The most commonly used forms of the passato remoto are the first and third person singular of essere, which is are fui and fu.

The first and third person singular of avere, which are ebbi and ebbe are also commonly used.

Even if you don’t plan to continue to learn the passato remoto tense, remember these  verbs because you will surely encounter them when reading Italian! The full conjugations of these irregular verbs are given for completeness. The stressed syllables have been underlined.

Avere—to have—Passato Remoto

 io ebbi I had
 tu avesti you (familiar) had
 Lei

lei/lui

ebbe you (polite) had

she/he had

     
(se) noi avemmo we had
(se) voi aveste you all had
(se) loro ebbero they had

 

Essere—to be—Passato Remoto

 io fui I was
 tu fosti you (familiar) were
Lei

 lei/lui

fu you (polite) were

she/he was

     
 noi fummo we were
 voi foste you all were
 loro furono they were

 

 


Speak Italian: “Passato Remoto” Past Tense
You Will Need to Know…

The “Passato Remoto” Regular Conjugations

Unfortunately, before we even begin to conjugate verbs in the passato remoto, it should be noted that the passato remoto has many, many exceptions to the regular conjugation. But luckily, use of the passato remoto in novels is usually limited by the narrative form chosen, which will normally be in the first person or third person singular. This in turn limits the number of endings necessary to learn.

Also, certain verbs are used over and over in a novel in the passato remoto form—those needed to keep the flow of dialogue going, such as said, asked, answered, went, and came. So even a limited knowledge of this verb form is very useful for understanding a work of Italian fiction.

For this blog post, we will describe how to conjugate the passato remoto but will focus on only the most commonly used verbs in the singular first and third persons.

********************

To conjugate the passsato remoto past tense…

As usual, we must first make our stem from the infinitive –are, –ere, and –ire verbs. The method used to form the stems for the passato remoto is easy—just drop the –are, –ere, or ire from the infinitive verb!

Then we add the endings for our passato remoto conjugations to the stems.

However, a quick look at the table below, and you will notice that, for all persons except the third person singular, each ending for the passato remoto begins with the first vowel that we have just removed from the stem!

So if it makes it easier for you, think of the endings for the are, –ere, and ire verbs
as being the same,

except for the third person singular.

Using the above method for the third person,
for the are verbs, the third person ending will be ò,
for the ere verbs, the ending will be é, and
for the –ire verbs, the ending will be–ì.

After another glance at the table below, it soon becomes apparent that the first and third persons for the ere form of the passato remoto will not be unique (the first person –ei ending will be the same as the  first person singular (io)ending for the conditional tense;  the third person é is almost identical to the third person singular (Lei, lei, lui) of the -ere and -ire present tense verbs; the third person plural erono is identical to the third person plural of the -ere future tense verbs).

Therefore, there are alternate ere endings for the passato remoto.
The ere endings used most often will instead be
–tti for the first person singular,
–tte for the third person singular, and
–ttero for the third person plural.

 

Passato Remoto Endings for –are, –ere, and –ire Verbs

Infinitive
Verb
 (All Forms) –are –ere –ire
io (i) ai ei (etti) oi
tu (sti) asti esti isti
Lei/lei/lui   ò é (ette) ì
         
noi (mmo) ammo emmo immo
voi (ste) aste este iste
loro (rono) arono erono (ttero) irono

 

When pronouncing the passato remoto verbs, the stress will always be on the first vowel of the ending—except, of course, for the third person singular, where the ending has only one vowel and the accent reminds us that this vowel must be stressed.

Notice that andare has a regular conjugation in the passato remoto! Also, because the –etti, –ette, and –ettero forms for the –ere first and third persons are used most frequently, they are listed first.

Passato Remoto: Regular Conjugations

  Andare

(to go)

(went)

Credere

(to believe)

(believed)

Finire

(to finish)

(finished)

io andai credetti (credei) finii
tu andasti credesti finisti
Lei/lei/lui andò credette (credé) finì
       
noi andammo credemmo finimmo
voi andaste credeste finiste
loro andarono credettero (crederono) finirono

 


Speak Italian: “Passato Remoto” Past Tense
You Will Need to Know…

“Passato Remoto” Common Irregular Verbs

Because there are so many irregular verbs in the passato remoto past tense, we present in the following table only the most commonly used verbs—and only in the first person singular io and third person singular Lei/lei/lui forms. Notice that some of these irregular forms fall into groups, which are listed together.

Because the passato remoto is often used for historical purposes when describing famous individuals from the past, it should be mentioned here that although nascere (to be born) is irregular in the passato remoto, the verb morire (to die) is regular!

Passato Remoto: Common Irregular are Verbs

  Dare
(gave)
Fare
(did/made)
Stare
(stayed/was)
io diedi feci stetti
Lei/lei/lui dette fece stette

 

Passato Remoto: Irregular ere Helping Verbs

  Dovere
(had to)
Potere
(could have had to)
Volere
(wanted to)
io dovetti potei volli
Lei/lei/lui dovette poté volle

 

 

Passato Remoto: Common Irregular ere Verbs

  Correre
(ran)
Perdere
(lost)
Mettere
(put)
Rimanere
(remained)
Rompere
(broke)
Spengere
(put out)
Vedere
(saw)
io corsi persi misi rimasi ruppi spensi vidi
Lei/lei/lui corse perse mise rimase ruppe spense vide

 

Passato Remoto: Common Irregular Verbs That Double the Stem Consonant

  Bere
(drank)
Cadere
(fell)
Conoscere
(knew)
Crescere
(grew)
Sapere
(knew)
Venire
(came)
io bevvi caddi conobbi crebbi sappi venni
Lei/lei/lui bevve cadde conobbe crebbe sappe venne

 

Passato Remoto: Common Irregular Verbs with a Double “S” in the Stem

  Dire
(said)
Leggere
(read)
Muovere
(moved)
Scrivere
(wrote)
Vivere
(lived)
io dissi lessi mossi scrissi vissi
Lei/lei/lui disse lesse mosse scrisse visse

 

Passato Remoto: Common Irregular Verbs That End in –dere and –endere

  Chiedere
(asked)
Dicedere
(decided)
Prendere
(took)
Ridere
(laughed)
Rispondere
(answered)
Sorridere
(smiled)
io chiesi decisi presi risi risposi sorrisi
Lei/lei/lui chiese decise prese rise rispose sorrise

 

Passato Remoto: Common Irregular Verbs That End in –gliere

  Scegliere
(chose)
Togliere
(took off)
io scelsi tolsi
Lei/lei/lui scelse tolse

 

Passato Remoto: Irregular Verbs That End in –ngere and –ncere

  Piangere
(cried)
Stringere
(tightened/grasped)
Vincere
(won)
io piansi strinsi vinsi
Lei/lei/lui pianse strinse vinse

 

Passato Remoto: Verbs with –cqui in the stem

  Nascere
(was born)
Piacere
(liked/was pleasing to)
Tacere
(touch)
io nacqui piacqui tacqui
Lei/lei/lui naque piacque tacque

 


Speak Italian: Passato Remoto—Let’s Tell YOUR Story! 

Now that you have an example story of one family’s history, try to write a narration of your own family history using the passato remoto and imperfetto past tenses. Check the conjugations in the last section if you need to when you use the passato remoto for narration!

Here are some questions you might ask a relative to get started:

  1.  What relatives came to America?
  2. What year did they come to America?
  3. What was the family situation in Italy when they left?
  4. How did the family members who were left behind manage in Italy?
  5. How did the family members who went to America manage?
  6. Did any of the family return to Italy? Why?
  7. Did the family stay in touch despite being separated? How?
  8. Was the separation difficult? For whom and why?
  9. Did the relatives who were separated ever meet again?
  10. Did the children in the separated families ever meet?

 

 


Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blogKathryn Occhipinti, MD, author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books, is a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area. “Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1 and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
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Tweet Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube Stella Lucente Italian, LLC

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on these Stella Lucente Italian sites:
Facebook Stella Lucente Italian
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Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Speak Italian : Passato Remoto—Let’s Tell a Story!

Ricotta Cheesecake with Champagne

Italian Ricotta Cheesecake for Valentines Day

Italian Ricotta Cheesecake for Valentines Day

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog Italian ricotta cheesecake — is a light, fresh cheesecake perfect for  your Valentine!

Italian Ricotta Cheesecake for Valentines Day 

When I was growing up in New York, my mother made a version of light, fresh-tasting cheesecake that my family loved.  After I became older and moved away from home,  I would often order what was called “New York Style” cheesecake in restaurants, hoping for a dessert that that would come close to the memory I had of my mother’s heavenly version.

What I came to realize over the years was that “New York Style” cheesecake is not at all like the cheesecake that my  used to make  while we were living in New York.  I could not understand why the restaurant cheesecake served to me often had an off flavor (can you say artificial ingredients?) and a texture that was heavy, and even gooey or sticky.

Of course, as I discovered when I finally asked my mother for her recipe, the reason the cheesecake I had at home was so different from what I found in restaurants was the type of cheese my mother used.  The ricotta cheese that my  mother would get freshly made from the Italian deli  after church every Sunday yielded a delicious, light, and almost crumbly cheesecake,  gently held together by a few  fresh eggs, flavored lightly with vanilla and given a fresh taste with a bit of lemon zest.  Which is not to say the other, more creamy versions made with cream cheese are not good if made with fresh ingredients.  They are just not Italian ricotta cheesecake!

The Italian crust my mother makes for her ricotta cheesecake also yields another subtle layer of flavor.  The method used to make the Italian version of a smaller fruit “crostata” or “tart” transfers to the thicker cheesecakes made in Italy.  A  “pasta frolla,” or “sweet pastry” crust lines the bottom of the tart and a lattice crust nicely decorates the top of the tart, and a true Italian cheesecake will have a lattice crust!  The crust for this cheesecake is flavored with a bit of lemon zest and brandy, which nicely compliments the taste of the fresh ricotta.

I modified the traditional lattice crust for Valentines Day by cutting an open heart into the top lattice crust.  After  baking the cheesecake, I let it cool a bit and then  I spread some good raspberry jam into the center of the heart for color and a little extra flavor.

Making the Italian ricotta cheesecake in the recipe below was even more fun for me than usual because I was able to use my new time-lapse photography software for my  cell phone.  If you want to see the video of my home cooked Italian ricotta cheesecake in the making, just click on the link below for the magic of Instagram!

View this post on Instagram

Italian Ricotta Cheesecake for Valentines Day. Makes a light, crumbly cheesecake, Italian-style, invented by the Romans! Ingredients: Crust: Mix 2 cups flour, 1/4 c sugar, 1/2 tsp. Salt. Cut in 3/4 cup unsalted butter. Add and mix with a fork: 2 large eggs lightly beaten, 3 Tbsps. Brandy, 1 tsp. Grated lemon zest. Spread mixture over bottom of 9” springform pan and bake 8 min at 350 degrees. Make disk of rest and refrig. Filling: Mix together 2 1/2 lbs. good ricotta cheese, 1/2 c sugar, 1 Tbsp. flour, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. Vanilla, 1 tsp. lemon zest, 2 large eggs beaten lightly. Pour filling into partially prebaked crust. Roll out rest of dough to create heart. Bake at 350 1 hour and about 15 min.more. Dust with powdered sugar. Fill in heart with raspberry or other jam. Add fruit. Let cool and then refrig at leat 4 hours before enjoying!………………………….. #cheesecake #italiandesserts #italiandessertsarethebest #italiandessert🇮🇹 #italiandessertcheesecake #italianfoodbloggers #italianfoodblogger #valentinedessert #valentinesday2019 #dolcevita #osnap #valentinesdaygift #learnitaliancookng #italiancook #italiancookingclass #cheesecakerecipe #cheesecakes #cheesecakefactory #thecheesecakefactoryathome #valentinesday2019 #valentinedesserts #valentinedessert #valentinedaydessert #valentinedessertcrawl #valentinedessertspecial

A post shared by Kathryn Occhipinti (@conversationalitalian.french) on

My family loved this cheesecake as an early Valentines Day present.  I hope your loved ones will too!   -Kathryn Occhipinti


Italian Ricotta Cheesecake 

Ricotta Cheesecake with raspberry jam
Slice of Italian Ricotta Cheesecake with Raspberry Jam topping and coffee

Ingredients
(Makes One, 9″ Cheesecake)

Pasta Folla for the Crust
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cups unsalted butter
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 Tbsp brandy
1 tsp grated lemon zest

Ricotta Filling 
2  1/2 lbs. fresh ricotta cheese*
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon zest
2 large eggs beaten lightly

Topping
powdered sugar
raspberry jam
fresh raspberries

Method

Before starting to make the cheesecake,  set an oven rack into the lower third of your oven and preheat your oven to 350°.

Assemble the Springform pan and lock the bottom in place.  (If you don’t have a Springform pan, you can use a deep dish pie pan.)

For the crust:

In a large, wide bowl, mix the flour, sugar, and salt together with a fork.

Cut in 3/4 cup unsalted butter with a pastry cutter or your hands, running your thumb across your fingers to create small, flat, “flakes” of butter (method shown in Instagram video).

Add the lightly beaten eggs, brandy and lemon zest.

Mix together with a fork gently and then your hands gently until the dough comes together to form a disk.

Pull off pieces of the dough and use this to line the bottom of a 9″ Springform pan.  Reform the remainder of the dough into a disk and refrigerate in plastic wrap 30 minutes.

Pop into the oven and bake 8 – 10 minutes at 350°, or until lightly brown and set, but not cooked through.

Take out of oven and let cool before filling.

For the filling:

Using a large spoon or an electric mixer on low, gently mix together the ricotta cheese, sugar, flour salt, vanilla and lemon zest.

Add the 2 beaten eggs and mix gently to combine.

Pour the filling into the pre-baked, cooled crust in the Springform pan.

Take out the disk of reserved dough from the refrigerator.  Roll the dough out on a floured board.

Cut  one side of the rolled out dough into 4 long strips and place each strip onto the periphery of the filling to create the four sides of a square. Cut out a heart the size to fit into the center of the square. (You can cut the heart out of paper at first until you get the right size and then use this as a stencil to trace when cutting the dough if  you are not comfortable cutting the heart free hand.  And if it doesn’t work the first time, just put the dough back together and try again!)

Place the cheesecake in the oven and bake at 350 degrees about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until set and lightly brown on the edges.

Complete the  Cheesecake:

Let the cheesecake cool a bit.

Sprinkle all over with powdered sugar.

For a special occasion such as Valentines Day, spread a thin layer of raspberry jam into the cheesecake, in the center of the heart and/or between the lattice crust.

Top with fresh raspberries if desired.

Let set in the refrigerator overnight or at least 3 hours before enjoying!

 

*How to Find Good Ricotta Cheese
Today, I live near two small grocery store chains that make ricotta cheese fresh daily, and I would advise using this ricotta cheese instead of the mass produced (and preservative filled) ricotta cheese found on the shelves in most grocery stores.  If you have access to good, farm-fresh milk, it is actually easy to make your own cheese – but that is the subject of another blog!

— by Kathryn Occhipinti

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books and a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1 and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
YouTube Stella Lucente Italian, LLC

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on Facebook Stella Lucente Italian and Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian.
Facebook Stella Lucente Italian

Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Italian Ricotta Cheesecake for Valentines Day

Pasta and Lentils

Italian Pasta and Lentils for New Year’s Good Luck

Italian Pasta and Lentils for New Year’s Good Luck

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog Italian pasta and lentils — is said to bring families around the world good luck for the new year !

Italian Pasta and Lentils for New Year’s Good Luck! 

Pasta with lentils or lentil soup is a New Year’s tradition in many Italian households. The  lentil dishes are said to bring to luck to the family on New Year’s Day.  I am not sure if anyone really knows exactly why lentils are supposed to be good luck.  Maybe it is because they are shaped like small coins?

Whatever the reason, pasta and lentils is a hearty and delicious winter combination. Lentils are rich in protein,  and the pasta/lentil combination was probably an important contribution to family nutrition  in the days of the “cucina povera” cooking in Italy. Flavored with a bit of pancetta (Italian peppery bacon), garlic and tomato, the lentils make a delicious sauce that coats the pasta beautifully.

I used “maltagliati” or “poorly cut” pasta for this dish,  which to me is reminiscent of its “cucina povera,” origins but also because  the lentils cling nicely to the short, flat noodles. If you cannot find maltagliati pasta, lasagna noodles broken by hand into small, irregular pieces will give a similar effect.

Buon anno 2019 a tutti!  Try my pasta and lentils dish on a wintry day for a warm and comforting meal.   -Kathyn Occhipinti


Italian Pasta and Lentils

 

Italian Lentils and Pasta
Pasta and Lentils ready to serve for Italian New Year’s Sunday dinner

Ingredients
(Serves 4)


1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup pancetta (Italian bacon), diced finely
1  small carrot, chopped finely*
1 stalk of celery, chopped finely*
1 small onion, skin removed, chopped finely*
1 small clove garlic, chopped finely
1/2 cup dry Italian wine, such as Chianti
1 cup Italian lentils, rinsed
1 bay leaf
pinch of dried thyme or rosemary
3 cups of water
1/2 cup of chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1 Tbsp. tomato puree
1 lb. maltagliati pasta or lasagna noodles, coarsely broken into small pieces
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
*See below for note about how to chop soup vegetables.

 

Method

Before starting to make the lentil sauce, put a large pot of salted water to boil on a back burner.  Cover so it will come to a boil quickly and be ready when you need to cook the pasta.

 Use a large frying pan or Dutch oven to cook the lentils on the stove top.  Coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil, which will take about 1/4 cup or so.  Let the oil heat a bit over medium heat.

Add the chopped vegetables: carrots, celery, onions, and garlic, and saute in the garlic until they soften, about 5 minutes.

The pour in the red wine and then bring to a boil. Boil off about half of the wine.

Put the lentils to the pan.  If you want firmer lentils, you can saute them at this point.  Otherwise, add the water.  Stir. Bring back to the boil and then lower heat and simmer the lentils about 20 minutes.

When the lentils have softened a bit, remove the bay leaf. Then add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, and chicken or vegetable broth.  Add more water if needed. Bring up to a simmer again and cook 10 – 15 minutes more, or until lentils are of desired tenderness.

Meanwhile, put the pasta into the boiling water.  Stir. Cover the pot to return to the boil Remove cover, stir again and let pasta cook, stirring occasionally.  Cook for less time than the package directions, to a very firm al dente, as the pasta will finish cooking with the lentils.

When the pasta is ready, drain, reserving some of the pasta water.

Add the pasta to the lentils.  Add the pasta water if needed.  The sauce should be fairly thick and coat the pasta nicely as you mix.

Cook over medium low heat another 5 minutes or so, until all is heated through and pasta is al dente.

Add the grated cheese and mix again to coat.

Serve steaming hot with crusty bread. Serve additional cheese and black pepper on the side to be added as desired.

New Year’s toast: Buon Anno!  Buon Appetito!

 

*How to Chop Vegetables
Carrots: Cut lengthwise to half, and then lengthwise again to get quarters. Line them up side by side and then cut crosswise from the tips to the base of the carrot to get small, even pieces that look like quarters of a circle.
Celery: Cut lengthwise through each celery stalk as many times as needed to give pieces the same thickness as the carrot pieces. (You will need more lengthwise cuts at the thicker part of the celery near the base.) Then cut crosswise from the tip to the base to get small, rectangular  pieces of celery about the same size as the carrot pieces.
 Onions: Cut lengthwise through the onion. Turn one of the halves flat side down.  Holding the onion together with one hand, cut lengthwise along the green lines through the onion, except for the root holding the onion together at the base.  Turn and cut horizontally, from the side away from the stem toward the stem.  Just before reaching the stem, flip the onion flat again and make the final cuts.  Discard the piece that contains the stem.

— by Kathryn Occhipinti

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books and a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

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Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Italian Pasta and Lentils for New Year’s Good Luck

Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Verbs

Imperfetto Subjunctive for Past Tense (Part 3): Speak Italian!

Imperfetto Subjunctive for Past Tense (Part 3): Speak Italian!

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog               The Italian subjunctive mood is easy to conjugate for use with the Italian past tense, but tricky to use!

 

Speak Italian: How to Use the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

Can you speak Italian? By now, many of you have passed the beginning stages of learning to speak Italian and can read and comprehend quite a bit of the Italian language. Meraviglioso!

But have you tried to take the next step to speak Italian fluently? Can you use the Italian subjunctive mood when you are speaking in the past tense? To express complex feelings in Italian correctly, it is important to use the Italian subjunctive mood. Using the subjunctive mood is difficult for English speakers, as we only rarely use this tense in English, and this is something that I am always working on! This is the third blog in the “Speak Italian” series that will focus on how to conjugate and use the imperfetto subjunctive mood, or “il congiuntivo” for speaking  in the past tense.

Let’s take that giant step from simple beginning sentences to more complex and fluid sentences in Italian by using the imperfetto subjunctive mood while speaking in the past tense. In this segment, we will discuss when the helping verbs dovere, potere and volere take the subjunctive mood. 

We will also repeat the Italian conjugation of the imperfetto subjunctive form for the regular and irregular -are, -ere, and -ire verbs and then present the conjugation of the modal, or helping, verbs dovere, potere, and volere. Finally, we will revisit the trapassato subjunctive mood from our previous blog on Italian hypothetical phrases.  Example sentences will follow!

Speak Italian: How to Use the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

In each blog in the “Speak Italian” series about the imperfetto  Italian subjunctive mood (“il congiuntivo”),  we will first present phrases that take the Italian subjunctive mood.

Then,  we will review how to conjugate the imperfetto subjunctive mood.

Finally, we will present common phrases from daily life that take the imperfetto subjunctive mood.

Remember these examples as “anchors” in your knowledge for when you must speak Italian and try out the imperfetto subjunctive mood in your next Italian conversation!

Enjoy the third blog in this series, “Imperfetto Subjunctive for Past Tense (Part 3): Speak Italian!”
—Kathryn Occhipinti

Some of this material is adapted from our textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC, found on www.learntravelitalian.com. Special thanks to Italian instructors Simona Giuggioli and Maria Vanessa Colapinto.

 


Speak Italian: How to Use the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood (Part 3)

Once Again… Italian Phrases That Take the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

Italian has a subjunctive mood that is used to express beliefs, thoughts, or hopes with the verbs credere, pensare, and sperare.

The subjunctive mood is also said to “open up” a conversation to discussion about a particular topic by expressing doubt, uncertainty, desire, or a feeling.

Certain phrases are commonly used to start a sentence in order to introduce the subjunctive mood, and these initial phrases will be in the indicative tense (the “usual” present or past tense).  These initial phrases imply uncertainty and trigger the subjunctive mood in the phrase to follow.

We have already learned to use the imperfetto subjunctive mood with the conditional tense in our blogs about Italian hypothetical phrases!  Now, as stated before, we will focus on the use of the imperfetto subjunctive mood after introductory phrases that are in the past tense.

In our first blog about the imperfetto subjunctive mood, we learned that these initial phrases fall into several groups. We discussed Groups 1  through Group 6, which are given below for review.

In our second blog about the imperfetto subjunctive mood, we discussed Groups 7 and 8.

These groups are again listed  below for review.

In this blog, we will discuss phrases that express feelings (any emotion, fear, or surprise) in Group 9 and describe the situations in the past in which they are used to  introduce the imperfetto subjunctive mood.

We will also now discuss Group 10, in which we list individual words that refer to the purpose or timing of an action that, when in the past, must be followed by the imperfetto subjunctive mood. These words are part of “adverbial clauses” that modify verbs. As such, they are often used in the phrase that completes a sentence, but can also be found at the beginning of a sentence. Many of these words are easy to recognize since they end in -che.

Finally, Groups 11 and 12 are individual adjectives or pronouns that can introduce another clause and when describing the past must be followed by the imperfetto  subjective mood.

At the end of the list, we will also include the topic of a series of blogs on Italian hypothetical phrases,  to complete our discussion of specific words or phrases that can be used to introduce the subjunctive mood.

Groups 1-9: “Noun Clauses”

Group 10: “Adverbial Clauses”

Groups 11 and 12: “Adjective/Pronoun Clauses”

      1. Phrases that use the verbs credere (to believe), pensare (to think), and sperare (to hope). These verbs use the pattern: [verb  di + infinitive verb to describe the beliefs, thoughts, or hopes that one has. When the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the subjunctive clause that follows, the pattern changes to: [verb + che + subjunctive verb].*
      2. Impersonal constructions that begin with, “It is…” such as, “È possibile che…”
      3. Phrases that express a doubt, such as, “I don’t know…” or “Non so che…”
      4. Phrases that express suspicion, such as, ” I suspect that…” or “Sospetto che…”
      5. Phrases that express uncertainty, such as, “It seems to me…” or “Mi sembra che…” and  “Chiedersi se… “ or ” To wonder if…”
      6. Impersonal verbs followed by the conjunction che, such as, “Basta che…” “It is enough that,” or “Si dice che…” “They say that…
      7. Phrases that use the verbs volere, desiderare, chiedere, esigere  when the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the clause that follows. In this situation, these verbs will be followed by che.
      8. Phrases that use the verbs piacere and dispiacere when the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the clause that follows. In this situation, these verbs will be followed by che.
      9. Phrases that express feelings (any emotion, fear, surprise) and use the pattern: [avere, essere, or augurarsi verb  +  di + infinitive verb].  When the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the clause that follows, the pattern changes to: [avere, essere, or augurarsi verb + che + subjunctive verb].
      10. Sentences that begin with words that end in –ché, or complex conjunctions that end with che:  affinché, perché (so as, so that, in order that), purché (as long as, provided that, only if)**, a meno che, senza che (unless), può darsi che (it may be possible that, possibly, maybe), prima che (before that).  Also the many words that mean although/even though, one of which ends in -che: benché  (also sebenne, malgrado, nonostante).***
      11. Sentences that begin with adjectives or pronouns that include the idea of any in a description of a person, place or thing:  qualsiasi, qualunque (any), chiunque (whoever), dovunque (anywhere).
      12. Sentences that begin with adjectives or pronouns that include the idea of nothing or only  in a description of a person, place, or thing: niente che, nulla che (nothing that), nessuno che (nobody that), l’unico, il solo, a che (the only one that).

Hypothetical Phrases:  Phrases that begin with se (if) in certain situations. Phrases that begin with come se (as if), and magari (if only)

As usual, there are summary tables in the next section that shows how to use these  phrases.  The present tense is in the left  columns.  The imperfetto past tense has been chosen for the right columns, although in some situations, the passatto prossimo past tense can be used as well. We will then present examples for the past tense.

Points to remember about the subjunctive mood:

In Italian, the introductory phrases that take the subjunctive mood (those that trigger doubt, uncertainty, desire, or a feeling)  usually end with a linking word, also known as a conjunction, which will be che.  In this situation, che means that.  The clause that follows our introductory phrase will then describe what the uncertainty is about.

We now see from Group 9 that some introductory words or phrases already have -ché or che integrated into the word itself. In these cases, che is not repeated.  

*When the speaker in the introductory phrase will carry out the action in the phrase to follow, Italian will use the following construction to link the phrases for credere, pensare, and sperare :  di + infinitive verb. Example: Penso di andare a Roma domani.  =  I think I will go to Rome tomorrow. (Use  pensare a when thinking ABOUT something or someone.)

**solo se also means only if but does NOT take the subjunctive mode.

*** anche se also means even though/if but does NOT take the subjunctive mode.

 


 

How to Express One’s Feelings with “Di” and “Che” and the Italian Subjunctive Mood – Present Tense

Phrases Used to Express Feelings with “Di” in Italian

When expressing one’s feelings in Italian in the first person (io conjugation), many common Italian expressions are followed by di (of). In this case, when di is followed by another verb, the verb in the second phrase will be in the infinitive tense (if you remember, infinitive verbs end in -are, -ere, -ire, and translate as “to…”). Below are some examples of these phrases, along with example sentences, adapted from Chapter 7 of the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook.

 

avere bisogno di to have need of Ho bisogno di… riposare.
 
avere paura di to be afraid/have fear of Ho paura di… guidare.
 
avere voglia di to feel like Ho voglia di… mangiare una pizza.
 
essere certo di to be certain of Sono certo(a) di… ricordare il tuo nome.
 
essere sicuro di to be certain of Sono sicuro(a) di… ricordare questo posto.
 
essere felice di to be happy to Sono felice di… incontrare mio cugino oggi.
 
essere fortunato di to be lucky to Sono fortunato(a) di… mangiare questa cena.
 
essere libero di to be free to Sono libero(a) di… viaggiare.
 
essere stanco di to be tired of Sono stanco(a) di… lavorare.
 
temere di… to be afraid of Temo di… essere in ritardo.
 
augurarsi di… to wish/to hope (of) Mi auguro di… fare una buona vacanza.

 


 

How to Express One’s Feelings with “Di” and “Che” and the Italian Subjunctive Mood – Past Tense

Phrases Used to Express Feelings with “Che” and the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

Some of the expressions listed in the following table are most commonly used with the same subject for the second phrase. As noted in our previous discussions, these phrases will be followed with “di” and an infinitive verb. They are reprinted here to correspond with the previous table, followed by an asterisk and an explanation in parentheses.

For most of the expressions of feeling that we have been talking about, though, it is possible to express a feeling that the speaker (io) has regarding another person or people. In this case, then, these expressions must be followed by che, and the subjunctive mood should be used for the verb in the second phrase.

The above rule for using che + subjunctive applies whether the introductory phrase is in the present tense or the past tense.
However, if the introductory verb is in the past tense, the imperfetto subjunctive form is the form to follow!

In our example table, we will illustrate this by following the Italian phrases in which the subjects can be different with ...che tu, which we know means …that you, although of course, this rule follows no matter which subject pronoun we use.

 

Phrases Used to Express Feelings with “Che” and the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mode

Present Tense Subjunctive Phrase
Group 8
    Past Tense Subjunctive Phrase
Group 8
 
Ho bisogno… che tu I need… that you*

*(This expression is not commonly used in Italian to tell another person what needs to be done; voglio che is used instead.)

Avevo bisogno… che tu I needed… that you*

*(This expression is
not commonly used
in Italian to tell
another person what
needs to be done;
volevo che is used
instead.)

       
Ho paura… che tu I am afraid… that you Avevo paura…  che tu I was afraid… that you
       
Ho voglia di… * I feel like… *
*(always used with the same subject +di in both phrases)
Avevo voglia * I felt like…*

*(always used with
the same subject + di
in both phrases)

 

       
Non sono certo(a)…
che tu
I am not certain…
that you
Non ero certo… che tu I was not certain… that you
       
Non sono sicuro(a)…
che tu
I am not certain…
that you
Non ero sicuro… che tu I was not certain… that you
       
Sono felice… che tu I am happy… that you Ero felice… che tu I was happy… that you
       
Sono fortunato(a)… che tu I am happy… that you Ero fortunato(a)… che tu I was fortunate… that you
       
Sono libero(a) di… *

 

I am free… *
*(always used with the same subject +di in both phrases)
Ero libero(a)… * I was free… *
*(always used with
the same subject +di
in both phrases)
       
Sono stanco(a) di…

 

I am tired…*

*(always used with the same subject +di in both phrases)

Ero stanco(a)… * I was tired…*

*(always used with
the same subject +di
in both phrases)

       
Temo… che tu I am afraid…
that you
Temevo… che tu I was afraid… that you
       
Mi auguro… che tu I hope… that you Mi auguravo… che tu I hoped… that you

 

 


Idiomatic Use of the Italian Subjunctive Mood

The final group of words in the table below take the subjunctive mood when used to start a sentence. These conjunctions, adjectives, and pronouns imply that a second phrase is necessary to complete the sentence.

The above rule for using che + subjunctive applies whether the introductory phrase is in the present tense or the past tense.
However, if  the introductory verb is the past tense, the imperfetto subjunctive form is the form to follow!

Only the most commonly used have been given in the table.  For a more complete list, see the list in the first section of this blog.

 

Phrases Used to Introduce the Subjunctive Mood—Idiomatic

 

Present Tense Subjunctive Phrase
Groups 9, 10, 11
 
Prima che Before that  ( Prima che is used to mean “before that” and followed by the subjunctive when the subject in the first phrase is different from the subject in the second phrase; use Prima di + infinitive verb when the subject of both phrases is the same.)
Benché, Sebbene Although, Even though, If
Può darsi che It may be possible that, Possibly, Maybe
Affinché So as, So that, In order that
Perché So that (Perché is only used in the subjunctive mood when it means “so that.” Other meanings of perché include “why” and “because,” and in these cases, the subjunctive mood is not used.)
Purché As long as, Provided that, Only if

 

 

Finally, our usual reminder:

DO NOT USE THE SUBJUNCTIVE WITH THE FOLLOWING THREE PHRASES!

Forse = Perhaps       

Per me = For me

Secondo me = According to me

The above may seem like exceptions to the rule, but perhaps… because these phrases already express doubt or your personal opinion… in the Italian way of thinking, it would be redundant to use these phrases along with the subjunctive!

And, two more  phrases we can now add that DO NOT take the subjunctive mood:

Solo se = Only if

Anche se = Even though/if

 


Speak Italian: Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood (Part 3)

How to Conjugate the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood for -are, -ere, and -ire Verbs

Luckily, there are only a few irregular stem forms to learn for the imperfetto subjunctive mood, making it an easier tense to learn than the present, future, and conditional tenses.

Also, the imperfetto subjunctive mood endings are always regular and will be the same for all three conjugations!

To change any regular infinitive verb into the imperfetto subjunctive mood, first drop the final -re, from our infinitive -are, -ere, and -ire verbs to create the stem.

This will create stems that end in the letters –a for the –are verbs, -e for the –ere verbs, and–i for the –ire verbs.  Then add the endings given in the first table below to the stem that has been created. Examples for each verb type are given in the second table below.*

The word che is included in parentheses in the subject pronoun column as a reminder that these verb forms typically are used with  the conjunction che. Also, use the subject pronoun in your sentence after che for clarity, since the endings for the singular forms are all the same!

Practice the subjunctive verbs out loud by saying che, the subject pronoun and then the correct verb form that follows!

 

Subjunctive Mood – Imperfetto Endings

io ssi
tu ssi
Lei/lei/lui sse
   
noi ssimo
voi ste
loro ssero

 

The following table will put together our stems with our imperfetto subjunctive mood endings.  A few notes about this:

When pronouncing the imperfetto subjunctive mood verbs, the stress will always be on the syllable that begins with the last two letters of the stem and will incorporate one –s letter from the ending. (Remember the rule for Italian double consonants: one consonant will go with the syllable before and the second with the syllable after, in effect also stressing the double consonant itself.) The stressed syllables are underlined in our example table below.

 

Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood – Example Verb Conjugations

  Abitare(to live)

(lived/were living)

Vedere(to see)

(saw/had seen)

Finire(to finish)

(finished/were finishing)

(che) io abitassi vedessi finissi
(che) tu abitassi vedessi finissi
(che) Lei/lei/lui abitasse vedesse finisse
       
(che) noi abitassimo vedessimo finissimo
(che) voi abitaste vedeste finiste
(che) loro abitassero vedessero finissero

 


How to Conjugate the Italian Subjunctive Mood Imperfetto Tense for the Modal Verbs

Here are the  Italian imperfetto subjunctive forms for the modal verbs.  If you remember, modal verbs are auxiliary verbs that are also called “helping verbs.” These verbs are often used in the subjunctive mood in written and spoken Italian. As you no doubt recall, these three helping verbs give additional information about the main verb in the phrase. In the subjunctive mood, volere can also be translated as “to need.”

 

 Dovere – to have to/must – Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

(che) io dovessi I had to
(che) tu dovessi you (familiar) had to
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

dovesse you (polite) had to
she/he had to
     
(che) noi dovessimo we had to
(che) voi doveste you all had to
(che) loro dovessero they had to

 

  

Potere – to be able (to)/can – Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

che) io potessi I was able to/could 
(che) tu potessi you (familiar) were able to/could 
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

potesse you (polite) were able to/could 

she/he was able to/could

     
(che) noi potessimo we were able to/could
(che) voi poteste you all were able to/could
(che) loro potessero they were able to/could

 

 Volere – to want/ to need – Imperfetto Subjunctive mode 
(che) io volessi I wanted/needed
(che) tu volessi you (familiar) wanted/needed
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

volesse you (polite) wanted/needed

she/he wanted/needed

     
(che) noi volessimo we wanted/needed
(che) voi voleste you all wanted/needed
(che) loro volessero they wanted/needed

The Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

Commonly Used Regular and Irregular Verbs

A review from the second blog in this series:

Luckily, most verbs are regular in the imperfetto subjunctive mood.  So, there are many, many more regular than irregular verbs! Below are some commonly used regular verbs, some of which are irregular in the present tense and most other tenses! Practice saying them out loud and listen to how each conjugated verb sounds.

 

Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood Conjugations – Commonly Used Regular Verbs
Andare(to go)

(went/were going)

Sapere
(to know)(knew/had known)
Venire(to come)

(came/had come)

Vivere(to live)

(lived/were living)

io andassi sapessi venissi vivessi
tu andassi sapessi venissi vivessi
Lei/lei/lui andasse sapesse venisse vivesse
         
noi andassimo sapessimo venissimo vivessimo
voi andaste sapeste veniste viveste
loro andassero sapessero venissero vivessero

The Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

Commonly Used Irregular Verbs

There are a few important irregular verbs to know in the imperfetto subjunctive mood.  You will find them in the tables below. Practice saying them out loud and listen to how each conjugated verb sounds.

Fare – to do/make  Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

io facessi I did/ made
tu facessi you (familiar) did/made
Leilei/lui facesse you (polite) did/madeshe/he did/made
     
noi facessimo we did/made
voi faceste you all did/made
loro facessero they did/made

 

 

Dare – to give – Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

io dessi I gave
tu dessi you (familiar) gave
Leilei/lui desse you (polite) gaveshe/he gave
     
noi dessimo we gave
voi deste you all gave
loro dessero they gave

 

 

Dire – to say/tell – Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

io dicessi I said/told
tu dicessi you (familiar) said/told
Leilei/lui dicesse you (polite) said/toldshe/he said/told
     
noi dicessimo we said/told
voi diceste you all said/told
loro dicessero they said/told

 


How to Conjugate Italian Verbs “Essere,” “Avere,” and “Stare” in the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

A review from the first blog in this series:

In the tables below are the imperfetto subjunctive forms for the Italian auxiliary verbs avere, stare, and essere, which are often used in the subjunctive mood in written and spoken Italian. These are important verbs to commit to memory!

You will notice that avere has a regular conjugation in the imperfetto subjunctive mood, whereas essere and stare have an irregular conjugation.

Avere—to have—Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

(che) io avessi I had
(che) tu avessi you (familiar) had
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

avesse you (polite) had

she/he had

     
(che) noi avessimo we had
(che) voi aveste you all had
(che) loro avessero they had

 

Essere—to be—Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

(che) io fossi I were
(che) tu fossi you (familiar) were
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

fosse you (polite) were

she/he were

     
(che) noi fossimo we were
(che) voi foste you all were
(che) loro fossero they were

 

Stare—to stay/be—Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

(che) io stessi I stayed/were
(che) tu stessi you (familiar) stayed/were
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

stesse you (polite) stayed/were

she/he stayed/were

     
(che) noi stessimo we stayed/were
(che) voi steste you all stayed/were
(che) loro stessero they stayed/were

The “Trapassato” Subjunctive Mood

 “Essere” or  “Avere” + Past Participle

To form the trapassato subjunctive mood to describe an event that started and was completed in the past, simply use either essere or avere in the imperfetto conjugation, and add the past participle of the verb.

In English, any event that started and was completed in the past simply needs “had” inserted in front of the past participle! This is a bit easier than Italian, but with a little practice, you will get used to the Italian in no time!

Visit our blog about  Italian hypothetical phrases in the past tense (Italian Subjunctive Part 5) for practice using this verb form with impossible hypothetical sentences.

*******************************

Below are the trapassato subjunctive mood conjugations for the auxiliary verbs avere and essere,  using the past participles for two Italian verbs that are commonly used in this tense – fare and andare.

Remember that action verbs of direction, reflexive verbs, other verbs of growing and changing, and piacere all take essere as a helping verb when making these compound verbs.  All other verbs take avere.  If you need a review of the use of helping verbs for the Italian past tense, please refer to our blog Speak Italian: A Story About… Love!

You will notice  that avere has a regular conjugation in the imperfetto subjunctive mood, whereas essere  has an irregular conjugation. The past participle for fare (fatto) is irregular, but that of andare (andato) is regular. If you need a refresher on how to form past participles, please refer to our blog Speak Italian: A Story About… Love!

In hypothetical clauses, because the trapassato subjunctive mood is introduced by se, (se) is included in the subject pronoun column as a reminder. When conjugating these verbs, say “se” before the subject pronoun and each verb form to reinforce this way of thinking!

 

Avere  (to have) + Fare (to do/make) — Trapassato Subjunctive Mood

(se) io avessi   +      fatto I had  +                                   made/done
(se) tu avessi  +       fatto you (familiar) had  +       made/done
(se) Lei

(se) lei/lui

avesse  +       fatto you (polite) had  +           made/done

she/he had  +                     made/done

     
(se) noi avessimo  +  fatto we had  +                          made/done
(se) voi aveste  +        fatto you all had  +                  made/done
(se) loro avessero  +   fatto they had  +                       made/done

 

Essere (to be) + Andare (to go) — Trapassato Subjunctive Mood

(se) io fossi  +     andato(a) I had  +                               gone
(se) tu fossi  +     andato(a) you (familiar) had  +    gone
(se) Lei

(se) lei/lui

fosse  +    andato(a) you (polite) had  +        gone

she/he had  +                  gone

     
(se) noi fossimo  +  andati(e) we had  +                         gone
(se) voi foste  +        andati(e) you all had  +                 gone
(se) loro fossero  +   andati(e) they had  +                      gone


Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mood (Part 3)

Example Phrases Using the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood in the Past Tense

 

To follow are some examples of how the Italian subjunctive mood in the past tense might be used in conversation during daily life.

Notice that English sentence structure differs from Italian in most of these sentences.  We can make a similar sentence in English as in Italian, but it would be considered an “awkward” sentence.

The biggest difference is that we English speakers do not use the subjunctive form, whether or not the subject in the two phrases is the same or different.  Also, we often leave out the word “that” from our sentences that contain two phrases. But, the Italian word for “that,” “che,”  is not an option when linking two Italian phrases – except if the introductory word itself ends in -che.

For the translations, the Italian sentence structure is given first for some examples to help us to think in Italian. The correct English is in bold.

We will use the example introductory phrases  from earlier in this section. How many more combinations can you think of?

 

 Ho voluto che tu cucinassi una cena speciale per la festa ieri sera. I wanted that you cook a special dinner for the party tonight. =

I wanted you to cook a special dinner for the party last night.

 
Ieri sera, ho avuto paura che lui  guidassi  troppo veloce. Last night, I was afraid that he drove too fast. =

Last night, I was afraid, since he drove too fast.

   
Non ero certo che Lei ricordasse quello giorno. I was not certain that you remembered that day.

 

Non ero sicuro che noi ricordassimo il posto corretto. I was not sure that we remembered the right place.
   
Sono stato felice che voi abbiate incontrato  mio cugino oggi. I was happy that  you all  have met my cousin today.=

I was happy  you all  met my cousin today.

Sono stata fortunata che voi abbiate mangiato con me ieri sera per il mio compleanno. I was lucky that you all ate with me last night for my birthday.=

I was lucky you all ate with me last night for my birthday.

 

Temavo che loro non fossero persone perbene. I was afraid that they were not good people.
 
Mi auguravo che loro facessero una buona vacanza. I was hoping that they had a good vacation. =

I was hoping they had a good vacation.

 


 

The Italian Subjunctive Mood: Examples for Idiomatic Phrases and Modal Verbs

Here are some examples for the introductory phrases “before that” and “after that,” which, as we have discussed in the earlier section, should take the imperfetto subjunctive mood when the reference is to the past.

These phrases seem to be most useful in situations in which we talk about plans people would have liked to or had made for themselves or others, and therefore helping verbs many times also come into play.

 Lei ha dovuto prepare molto bene i tuoi  documenti prima che tu dovessi andare al lavoro. She had to prepare your documents very well before (that) you had to come to work. =

She had to prepare your documents very well before you had to go to work.

 
Prima che mio figlio potesse andare dove ha voluto, io sono dovuto venire a casa. Before (that) my son could go where he wanted to, I had to go home. =

Before my son could go where he wanted to, I had to come home.

 
Prima che noi dovessimo partire per Roma, è stato buono che avete  riposato un po’ in campagna. Before (that) we had to leave for Rome, it was good that you all rested a little bit in the country. =

Before we had to leave for Rome, it was good that you all rested a little bit in the country.

 
Prima che voi poteste andare a trovare* i vostri parenti in America, tuo padre ha dovuto guadagnare un sacco di soldi.** Before (that) you all  could visit your relatives in America, your father had to make a lot of money. =

Before you all could visit your relatives in America, your father had to make a lot of money.

 
Il mio assistente ha dovuto portarli al riunione prima che loro possano mangiare la cena. My assistant had to bring them to the meeting before (that) they could eat dinner. =

My assistant had to bring them to the meeting before they could eat dinner.

* andare a trovare is an idiomatic expression that means “to go to visit (someone).” Visitare is used when going to visit a place.

** un sacco di soldi is an idiomatic expression that means “a lot of money.”

 


The  Italian Subjunctive Mood: Examples for Idiomatic Phrases

The final group of words that take the subjunctive mood on an idiomatic basis imply that a second phrase is necessary to complete the sentence. These are essential phrases to remember if we want to express complex thoughts in Italian. Here are some examples. How many more can you think of?

Benché io volessi andare in Italia, non è stato possibile l’anno scorso. Although I wanted to go to Italy, it was not possible last year.
 
Sebbene lui volesse andare all’università,  non ha ricevuto voti abastanza buoni al liceo. Although he wanted to go to college, he did not get good enough grades in high school.
 
Sebbene noi volessimo viaggiare,  abbiamo dovuto lavorare nel’ristorante di famiglia per molti anni. Though we wanted to travel, we had to work in the family restaurant for many years.
 
Perché la crostata fosse fatto buona,  hai dovuto usare le fragole fresche. So that the pie was made well, she had to use fresh strawberries. =

She had to use fresh strawberries so that the pie was made well.

 
Sono venuto alla festa, purché( lui non ci fosse. I agreed to come to the party, provided that he was not (going to be) there. =

I agreed to come to the party, provided that he was not going to be there.

-Some of this material is adapted from Conversational Italian for Travelers, Chapter 7, “Idiomatic Expressions – Avere and Essere + di + Infinitive” © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC.

Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood Past Tense (Part 3): Speak Italian!

 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blogKathryn Occhipinti, MD, author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books, is a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area. “Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1 and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
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Tweet Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
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More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on these Stella Lucente Italian sites:
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Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Imperfetto Subjunctive (Part 3) : Speak Italian!

Turkey soup for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Turkey Soup – That’s Italian!

Thanksgiving Turkey Soup – That’s Italian!

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog Thanksgiving Turkey Soup — continue the family  holiday celebration after Thanksgiving Day !

Thanksgiving Turkey Soup!
Calling Italian Moms, Dads, and Kids Everywhere! 

What makes my Thanksgiving turkey soup Italian, you ask?  Well, maybe it  actually is an American soup – since turkey is the quintessentially American bird – but made with an Italian touch!  Let me explain.

Of course, here in America it is not Thanksgiving without turkey.  And, the Italian cook hosting Thanksgiving dinner will not want anyone to miss out on their fair share (read enormous share) of turkey.  Which means a large turkey for every family size.  Which means the best part of Thanksgiving – leftovers!

Working under the Italian traditions that demand: (1) no food be wasted and (2) all left overs be transformed into a new and delicious dish,  one Thanksgiving evening I decided that it would be a waste to throw out the left over turkey bones with all the small bits of meat still clinging to them.  Instead of putting the turkey carcass into the garbage, I broke it up a bit and  put it  into my large stock pot.  Then I added a few coarsely chopped vegetables, left over fresh parsley, covered all with water and let the pot simmer on the stove top.

When my 6 year old daughter came down from her room on the second floor of the house and made her way back into the kitchen to ask why I was still cooking and what is was that smelled so good, I knew I had a hit! She insisted on having some of the soup that very night.

I have had a  standing request  from my family to make Thanksgiving turkey soup every year since that time.  The slightly sweet, mild flavor of the roasted turkey comes out beautifully with the long cooking that a soup requires.  And, with virtually no effort on my part, the family has a warm, easy meal to heat up themselves for the rest of the weekend.

For the quintessential “Italian” contribution to the soup, add a box of pappardelle noodles or small soup pasta in your favorite shape  to make your Thanksgiving turkey soup complete!

I have broken up the steps to make my Thanksgiving turkey soup into two separate days, but once the family smells the broth simmering on the stove, they may want you to finish the soup for a light evening meal  that very same night!

—Kathryn Occhipinti


Thanksgiving Turkey Soup with Noodles

 

Turkey soup for Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving turkey soup with pappardelle noodles ready to serve

Ingredients

For the Turkey Broth
(Day 1)
 1 (12-16) pound roasted turkey carcass
3 carrots, each cut into 3–4 pieces
2 stalks of celery, cut into 3–4 pieces
2  medium onions, skin removed, cut into halves
1 small clove garlic, skin removed
1 large bundle of fresh parsley stems or  1/4 cup dried parsley

For the Soup
(for 16 -20 cups of broth)
(Day 2)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped finely*
1 stalk celery, chopped finely*
1/4 cup dried parsley or 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
salt and white pepper

4 rounds of pappardelle pasta,  coarsely broken into desired length
(Granoro N. 134)
or 1/2 cup Ditali Rigati 59 pasta (Granoro brand)
or miniature pasta of choice

Pre-cooked, left-over turkey breast meat, chopped to desired size

*See below for note about how to chop soup vegetables.

 

Make the Turkey Broth (Day 1)

Put the turkey carcass and any left over bones desired into a large stock pot.

 

Stock pot for Thanksgiving turkey soup
Make turkey broth for the Thanksgiving turkey soup in the largest pot you have!

(This step can be skipped, but for the clearest broth: Cover the bones with cold water,  bring to a rolling boil and then turn down to a simmer.  Simmer for 10 – 15 minutes and skim off the “froth” that will come to the surface.  Pour out this water and then continue with the steps that follow.)

Add the vegetables and whole garlic clove into the pot with the turkey bones.

Note that these vegetables will be cooked until they have released all their flavor and will be removed before making the final soup, so there is no need to peel and chop them finely. Just wash, chop coarsely, and add to the soup pot.

Tie a bunch of parsley stalks together with food string and add them to the soup pot.

Turn the heat up to high and cover the pot to get it to boil. When the water comes to a boil, remove the lid and lower the heat to medium. Keep the water at a low boil/simmer and let the bones and vegetables cook slowly for 3–5 hours.

Skim any surface froth that may develop during cooking with a large spoon, but do not stir, or the broth will get cloudy.

Add additional water if necessary and continue cooking until the broth has the desired flavor.  The broth should reduce during the cooking time, and the final amount will vary, depending on the size of the bird you start with and how long you let the soup cook.  But expect enough soup to make about two pots of soup of  16 -20 cups each.

When the broth is done, the  carcass should be falling apart, the meat should be falling off the bones and the vegetables will be very mushy.

Turn off the heat and let cool. Remove larger pieces of bone and vegetables with a straining ladle to leave the broth in the pot.

Pour the broth through a colander with fine holes to remove any particulate matter, then store it in a large plastic containers in the refrigerator overnight.

(I usually get enough broth to fill at least 2 large bowl-shaped plastic containers when using a turkey 12 lbs. or larger, so I put one in the refrigerator and freeze the rest to make turkey soup later in the month.)

 

Make the Soup (Day 2)

The next day, remove the broth from the refrigerator. Skim off the fat that will have floated to the top and hardened overnight and discard.

Place the desired amount of  broth into a large pot.

Add the chopped carrot and celery and bring to a boil, cooking until the vegetables have softened a bit.

Add salt and a bit of  white pepper to taste.

When the water is boiling, add the pasta of your choice, and cook according to package directions.  The pappardelle pasta I use takes only 6 minutes to cook.

Cook  to “al dente” (a little firm) according to package directions. If not serving the soup right away, under cook it a bit, because pasta will absorb water as it sits in the soup.

Prior to serving , add the pre-cooked, left over turkey breast (or dark meat if preferred) cut to desired size and chopped parsley to warm through.

Serve in a large soup bowl garnished with fresh parsley.

Refrigerate leftovers to eat later in the week, if there are any!

*How to Chop Soup Vegetables
Carrots: Cut lengthwise to half, and then lengthwise again to get quarters. Line them up side by side and then cut crosswise from the tips to the base of the carrot to get small, even pieces that look like quarters of a circle.
Celery: Cut lengthwise through each celery stalk as many times as needed to give pieces the same thickness as the carrot pieces. (You will need more lengthwise cuts at the thicker part of the celery near the base.) Then cut crosswise from the tip to the base to get small, rectangular  pieces of celery about the same size as the carrot pieces.

— by Kathryn Occhipinti

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books and a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1 and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
YouTube Stella Lucente Italian, LLC

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on Facebook Stella Lucente Italian and Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian.
Facebook Stella Lucente Italian

Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Thanksgiving Turkey Soup – That’s Italian!

Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Verbs

Imperfetto Subjunctive for Past Tense (Part 2): Speak Italian!

Imperfetto Subjunctive for Past Tense (Part 2): Speak Italian!

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog            The imperfetto subjunctive mood is easy to conjugate for use with the Italian past tense, but tricky to use!

 

Speak Italian: How to Use the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

Can you speak Italian? By now, many of you have passed the beginning stages of learning to speak Italian and can read and comprehend quite a bit of the Italian language. Meraviglioso!

But have you tried to take the next step to speak Italian fluently? Can you use the imperfetto subjunctive mood when you are speaking in the past tense? To express complex feelings in Italian correctly, it is important to use the Italian subjunctive mood. Using the subjunctive mood is difficult for English speakers, as we only rarely use this tense in English, and this is something that I am always working on! This is the second blog in the “Speak Italian” series that will focus on how to conjugate and use the imperfetto subjunctive mood, or “il congiuntivo” for speaking  in the past tense.

Let’s take that giant step from simple beginning sentences to more complex and fluid sentences in Italian by using the imperfetto subjunctive mood while speaking in the past tense. In this segment, we will discuss when volere, desiderare, piacere, and dispiacere take the subjunctive mood.

We will also learn the conjugation of the imperfetto subjunctive mood for the -are, -ere, and -ire verbs and the commonly used irregular verbs andare, dare, dire, fare, sapere, and venire. Example sentences will follow!

Speak Italian: How to Use the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

In each blog in the “Speak Italian” series about the  imperfetto subjunctive mood (“il congiuntivo”),  we will first present phrases in the past tense that take the impefetto subjunctive mood.

Then,  we will review how to conjugate the imperfetto subjunctive mood.

Finally, we will present common phrases from daily life that take the imperfetto subjunctive mood.

Remember these examples as “anchors” in your knowledge for when you must speak Italian and try out the imperfetto subjunctive mood in your next Italian conversation!

Enjoy the 2nd blog in this series, “Imperfetto Subjunctive for Past Tense (Part 2): Speak Italian!”
—Kathryn Occhipinti

Some of this material is adapted from our textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC, found on www.learntravelitalian.com. Special thanks to Italian instructor  Maria Vanessa Colapinto.

 


Speak Italian: How to Use the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood (Part 2)

Once Again… Italian Phrases That Take the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

Italian has a subjunctive mood that is used to express beliefs, thoughts, or hopes with the verbs credere, pensare, and sperare.

The subjunctive mood is also said to “open up” a conversation to discussion about a particular topic by expressing doubt, uncertainty, desire, or a feeling.

Certain phrases are commonly used to start a sentence in order to introduce the subjunctive mood, and these initial phrases will be in the indicative tense (the “usual” present or past tense). These initial phrases imply uncertainty and trigger the subjunctive mood in the phrase to follow.

We have already learned to use the imperfetto subjunctive mood with the conditional tense in our blogs about Italian hypothetical phrases!  Now, as stated before, we will focus on the use of the imperfetto subjunctive mood after introductory phrases that are in the past tense.

In our first blog about the imperfetto subjunctive mood, we learned that these initial phrases fall into several groups. We discussed Groups 1  through Group 6, which are given below for review.

To follow in this blog is an explanation of several more phrases that can be used to introduce the imperfetto subjunctive mood, which we have added into our original list as Group 7 and Group 8.

Groups 1-8: “Noun Clauses”

    1. Phrases that use the verbs credere (to believe), pensare (to think), and sperare (to hope). These verbs use the pattern: [verb  di + infinitive verb to describe the beliefs, thoughts, or hopes that one has. When the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the subjunctive clause that follows, the pattern changes to: [verb + che + subjunctive verb].*
    2. Impersonal constructions that begin with, “It is…” such as, “È possibile che…”
    3. Phrases that express a doubt, such as, “I don’t know…” or “Non so che…”
    4. Phrases that express suspicion, such as, ” I suspect that…” or “Sospetto che…”
    5. Phrases that express uncertainty, such as, “It seems to me…” or “Mi sembra che…” and  “Chiedersi se… “ or ” To wonder if…”
    6. Impersonal verbs followed by the conjunction che, such as, “Basta che…” “It is enough that,” or “Si dice che…” “They say that…
    7. Phrases that use the verbs volere, desiderare, chiedere, esigere  when the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the clause that follows. In this situation, these verbs will be followed by che.
    8. Phrases that use the verbs piacere and dispiacere when the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the clause that follows. In this situation, these verbs will be followed by che.

 

As usual, there is a summary table in the next section that shows how to use these phrases. The present and present conditional tense is in the left columns, with the passatto prossimo and the imperfetto past tenses in the right columns. We will then present examples for the past tense.

 

Points to remember about the subjunctive mood:

In Italian, the introductory phrases that take the subjunctive mood (those that trigger doubt, uncertainty, desire, or a feeling)  usually end with a linking word, also known as a conjunction, which will be che.  In this situation, che means that.  The clause that follows our introductory phrase will then describe what the uncertainty is about.

*When the speaker in the introductory phrase will carry out the action in the phrase to follow, Italian will use the following construction to link the phrases for credere, pensare, and sperare :  di + infinitive verb. Example: Penso di andare a Roma domani.  =  I think I will go to Rome tomorrow.  (Use  pensare a when thinking ABOUT something or someone.)

 

 


How to Use the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood with
Volere and Desiderare

When expressing one’s desire in Italian in the first person (io conjugation), voglio/vorrei and desidero are used in similar situations to mean I want and I would like. In this case, these helping verbs are followed directly by another verb that is in the infinitive tense (if you remember, infinitive verbs end in -are, -ere, -ire and translate as “to…”).  Of course, these verbs can also be followed by a noun, the “object of our desire”!

Volere and desiderare are covered in detail in Chapter 4 of our textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers, if you would like a review. Below are some simple examples:

Voglio imparare l’italiano.      I want to learn Italian.

Vorrei viaggiare in Italia.         I would like to travel to Italy.

Desidero andare al cinema.    I want to go to the movies.

But when these same verbs—voglio/vorrei and desidero—are used to express a desire for something that the speaker in the first person (io) wants another person to do, then these helping verbs must be followed by che, and then the subjunctive mood should be used for the verb in the next phrase.

In the same way, I can ask that someone do something using the verb chiedere  or insist that they do it with the verb esigere.  But just asking someone else or even insisting does not mean that it will be done (as those of us who have children know).  So, in these cases as well, the verbs chiedere and esigere  will be followed by the conjunction che and the next phrase will use a verb in the subjunctive form.

The above rule for using che + subjunctive applies whether the introductory phrase is in the present tense or the past tense.*
However, if the introductory verb is in the past tense, the imperfetto subjunctive form is the form to follow!

*Be careful with chiedere and esigere, though, when using the passato prossimo past tense, since their past participles are irregular.  For chiedere, the past participle is chiesto and for esigere, the past participle is esatto.

Esatto is, of course, also used as an adjective, meaning “exact” or “precise” as well as an interjection with the meaning of “Exactly!”


How to Use the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood with
Piacere and Dispiacere

The verb forms mi piace, mi piacerrebbe and mi dispiace, mi dispiaccerebbe follow the same rule given for the verbs in Group 6 we just discussed: when the verb that follows these introductory phrases refers to the speaker (io form), then a verb in the infinitive form follows directly.  When the verb that follows refers to someone else, che is used as a link to a verb in the subjunctive mood in the second clause.

The above rule for using che + subjunctive applies whether the introductory phrase is in the present tense or the past tense.
However, if  if the introductory verb is in the past tense, the imperfetto subjunctive form is the form to follow!

In our example table that follows, we will illustrate the use of che followed by a different speaker from the introductory phrase with ...che tu.  This conjunction  means …that you.  Of course, we can replace tu with any of the other subject pronouns, and then the phrases would be: ….che Lei, che lei, che lui, che noi, che voi, or che loro.

Phrases Used to Introduce the Subjunctive Mood  with Volere, Desiderare, Piacere, Dispiacere

 

Present Tense &
Conditional Tense
Subjunctive Phrases
Groups 6 and 7
    Past Tense &
Past Conditional Tense
Subjunctive Phrases
Groups 6 and 7
       
Voglio… che tu I want… that you Volevo… che tu
Ho voluto… che tu
I wanted… that you
Vorrei… che tu I would like…
that you
Volevo… che tu
Ho voluto… che tu
I wanted… that you
Desidero… che tu
Chiedo... che tu
Esigo… che tu
I want… that you
I ask… that you
I insist... that you
Desideravo… che tu
Chiedevo… che tu
Esigevo… che tu
Ho desiderato… che tu
Ho chiesto… che tu
Ho esatto… che tu
I wanted… that you
I asked... that you
I insisted… that you
Mi piace… che tu I like… that you Mi piaceva… che tu
Mi sono piaciuto(a)…
che tu
I liked… that you
Mi dispiace… che tu I am sorry… that you Mi dispiaceva… che tu
Mi sono dispiaciuto(a)… che tu
I was sorry… that you
Mi piacerebbe…
che tu
I would like…
that you
Mi sarebbe piaciuto(a)… che tu I would have liked…
that you
Mi dispiacerebbe…
che tu
I don’t mind…
that you
Mi sarebbe dispiaciuto(a)…
che tu
I didn’t mind…
that you

 

Finally, a word of caution:

DO NOT USE THE SUBJUNCTIVE WITH THE FOLLOWING THREE PHRASES!

Forse = Perhaps      

Per me = For me

Secondo me = According to me

 

The above may seem like exceptions to the rule, but perhaps… because these phrases already express doubt or your personal opinion… in the Italian way of thinking, it would be redundant to use these phrases along with the subjunctive!


Speak Italian: Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood (Part 2)

How to Conjugate the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood for -are, -ere, and -ire Verbs

Luckily, there are only a few irregular stem forms to learn for the imperfetto subjunctive mood, making it an easier tense to learn than the present, future, and conditional tenses.

Also, the imperfetto subjunctive mood endings are always regular and will be the same for all three conjugations!

To change any regular infinitive verb into the imperfetto subjunctive mood, first drop the final -re, from our infinitive -are, -ere, and -ire verbs to create the stem.

This will create stems that end in the letters –a for the –are verbs, -e for the –ere verbs, and–i for the –ire verbs.  Then add the endings given in the first table below to the stem that has been created. Examples for each verb type are given in the second table below.*

The word che is included in parentheses in the subject pronoun column as a reminder that these verb forms typically are used with  the conjunction che. Also, use the subject pronoun in your sentence after che for clarity, since the endings for the singular forms are all the same!

Practice the subjunctive verbs out loud by saying che, the subject pronoun and then the correct verb form that follows!

 

Subjunctive Mood – Imperfetto Endings

io ssi
tu ssi
Lei/lei/lui sse
   
noi ssimo
voi ste
loro ssero

 

The following table will put together our stems with our imperfetto subjunctive mood endings.  A few notes about this:

When pronouncing the imperfetto subjunctive mood verbs, the stress will always be on the syllable that begins with the last two letters of the stem and will incorporate one –s letter from the ending. (Remember the rule for Italian double consonants: one consonant will go with the syllable before and the second with the syllable after, in effect also stressing the double consonant itself.) The stressed syllables are underlined in our example table below.

 

Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood – Example Verb Conjugations

  Abitare(to live)

(lived/were living)

Vedere(to see)

(saw/had seen)

Finire(to finish)

(finished/were finishing)

(che) io abitassi vedessi finissi
(che) tu abitassi vedessi finissi
(che) Lei/lei/lui abitasse vedesse finisse
       
(che) noi abitassimo vedessimo finissimo
(che) voi abitaste vedeste finiste
(che) loro abitassero vedessero finissero

 


The Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

Commonly Used Regular Verbs

Luckily, most verbs are regular in the imperfetto subjunctive mood.  So, there are many, many more regular than irregular verbs!

Below are some commonly used regular verbs, some of which are irregular in the present tense and most other tenses! Practice saying them out loud and listen to how each conjugated verb sounds.

 

Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood Conjugations – Commonly Used Regular Verbs
Andare(to go)

(went/were going)

Sapere
(to know)(knew/had known)
Venire(to come)

(came/had come)

Vivere(to live)

(lived/were living)

io andassi sapessi venissi vivessi
tu andassi sapessi venissi vivessi
Lei/lei/lui andasse sapesse venisse vivesse
         
noi andassimo sapessimo venissimo vivessimo
voi andaste sapeste veniste viveste
loro andassero sapessero venissero vivessero

The Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

Commonly Used Irregular Verbs

There are a few important irregular verbs to know in the imperfetto subjunctive mood.  You will find them in the tables below. Practice saying them out loud and listen to how each conjugated verb sounds.

 

Fare – to do/make  Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

io facessi I did/ made
tu facessi you (familiar) did/made
Leilei/lui facesse you (polite) did/madeshe/he did/made
     
noi facessimo we did/made
voi faceste you all did/made
loro facessero they did/made

 

 

Dare – to give – Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

io dessi I gave
tu dessi you (familiar) gave
Leilei/lui desse you (polite) gaveshe/he gave
     
noi dessimo we gave
voi deste you all gave
loro dessero they gave

 

 

Dire – to say/tell – Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

io dicessi I said/told
tu dicessi you (familiar) said/told
Leilei/lui dicesse you (polite) said/toldshe/he said/told
     
noi dicessimo we said/told
voi diceste you all said/told
loro dicessero they said/told



Speak Italian: How to Use the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood (Part 2)

Example Phrases Using the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood with the Past Tense

To follow are some examples of how the Italian subjunctive mood in the past tense might be used in conversation during daily life.

Notice that English sentence structure differs from Italian in most of these sentences.  We can make a similar sentence in English as in Italian, but it would be considered an “awkward” sentence.

The biggest difference is that we English speakers do not use the subjunctive form, whether or not the subject in the two phrases is the same or different.   Also, we often leave out the word “that” from our sentences that contain two phrases. But, as mentioned previously, the Italian word for “that,” “che,” is not an option when linking two Italian phrases!

For the translations, the Italian sentence structure is given first in italics to help us to think in Italian. The correct English is in bold.

We will use the example introductory phrases and verbs from earlier in this section. Some sentences will work with both the imperfetto and passato prossimo introductory phrases if we add a time frame. In these cases, the passatto prossimo is given in blue.

You can see from our first example that use of the past subjunctive in the opening phrase really does allow one to make complex sentences.  The first example has been completed to express a complex situation.  Have fun expanding the sentences we have given. How many more combinations can you think of?

 

Volevo che tu tornassi presto.
Ho voluto che tu tornassi presto ieri sera perché dovevo parlarti di una cosa importante.
I wanted that you returned early. =
I wanted you to have returned early.
I wanted you to have returned early last night because I had to talk to you about something important.
   
Volevo che lui  vendessi la macchina vecchia.
Ho voluto che lui vendesse la macchina vecchia l’anno scorso.
I wanted that he sold the old car (last year). =
I wanted him to have sold the old car (last year).
   
Desideravo che lei andasse via.
Ho desiderato che lei andasse via ieri sera.
I wanted that she went away (last night). =
I wanted her to have gone away (last night).
   
Desideravo che Lei facesse una bella torta per la festa.
Ho desiderato che Lei facesse una bella torta per la festa ieri.
I wanted that you made a nice cake for the party (yesterday). =
I wanted you to have made a nice cake for the party (yesterday).
   
Mi piaceva che tu venissi a Roma ogni giorno. I liked (It was pleasing to me) that you came to Rome every day. =
I liked (that fact that) you came to Rome every day.
   
Mi dispiaceva che lui non sapesse questa informazione. I am sorry (It made me sorry) that he doesn’t know this information. =
I am sorry he doesn’t know this information.

 

 

Volevo che noi tornassimo presto.
Ho voluto che noi tornassimo presto ieri sera.
I wanted that we returned early (last night). =
I wanted us to have returned early (last night).
   
Volevo che noi vendessimo la macchina vecchia.
Ho voluto che noi vendessimo la macchina vecchia l’anno scorso.
I wanted that we sold the old car (last year). =
I wanted us to have sold the old car (last year).
   
Desideravo che voi  andaste via.
Ho desiderato che voi andaste via ieri sera.
I wanted that you all went away (last night). =
I wanted you all to have gone away (last night).
   
Desidero che voi faceste una bella torta per la festa.
Ho dovuto che voi faceste una bella torta per la festa ieri.
I wanted that you all made a nice cake for the party (yesterday). =
I wanted you all to have made a nice cake for the party (yesterday).
   
Mi piaceva che voi  veniste a Roma ogni giorno. I liked (It was pleasing to me)that  you all came to Rome every day. =
I liked (that fact that) you all came to Rome every day.
   
Mi dispiace che voi  non sapeste questa informazione. I am sorry (It made me sorry) that you all don’t know this information. =
I am sorry you all don’t know this information.

 

 

Volevo che loro tornassero presto.
Ho voluto che noi tornassero presto ieri sera.
I wanted that they returned early (last night). =
I wanted them to have returned early (last night).
   
Volevo che loro vendessero la macchina vecchia.
Ho voluto che loro vendessero la macchina vecchia l’anno scorso.
I wanted that they sold the old car (last year). =
I wanted them to have sold the old car (last year).
   
Desideravo che loro  andassero via.
Ho desiderato che loro andassero via ieri sera.
I wanted that they went away (last night). =
I wanted them to have gone away (last night).
   
Desidero che loro facessero e una bella torta per la festa.
Ho dovuto che loro facessero una bella torta per la festa ieri.
I wanted that they  made a nice cake for the party (yesterday). =
I wanted them to have made a nice cake for the party (yesterday).
   
Mi piaceva che loro venissero a Roma ogni giorno. I liked (It was pleasing to me) that  they came to Rome every day. =
I liked (that fact that) they came to Rome every day.
   
Mi dispiace che loro non sapessero questa informazione. I am sorry (It made me sorry) that they don’t know this information. =
I am sorry they don’t know this information.

 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blogKathryn Occhipinti, MD, author of the
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Imperfetto Subjunctive for Past Tense (Part 2): Speak Italian!