Tag Archives: How to use the Italian subjunctive mood

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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.

 


 

 

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Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
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Italian Subjunctive (Part 6): Situations for Italian Adjective Clauses and Comparisons

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Italian Subjunctive (Part 3): Speak Italian!

Italian Subjunctive (Part 3): Speak Italian!

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

 

Speak Italian: How to Use 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? Can you use the Italian subjunctive mood in the correct situations? 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 blogs in the “Speak Italian” blog series will focus on how to conjugate and 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 how to express one’s needs in Italian and learn about other important introductory phrases and individual words that take the Italian subjunctive mood

We will repeat the Italian conjugation of the subjunctive mood for the regular -are, -ere, and -ire verbs and then present the conjugation of the modal, or helping, verbs dovere, potere, and volere.

A review of the Italian subjunctive mood conjugations for the auxiliary verbs and for commonly used irregular verbs will complete this blog. Example sentences will follow!

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 phrases that take the Italian subjunctive mood.

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

Finally, we will present common phrases 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 the third blog in this series, “Italian Subjunctive (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 Italian Subjunctive Mood (Part 3)

Once Again… Phrases That Take the Italian 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). The subjunctive mood is also used with the conditional tense, but this will be the topic of later blogs. These initial phrases imply uncertainty and trigger the subjunctive mood in the phrase to follow.

In our first blog about the Italian subjunctive mood, we learned that these initial phrases fall into several groups. We discussed Groups 1  through Group 6.

In our second blog about the Italian subjunctive mood, we discussed Groups 8 and 9.

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 which they are used to  introduce the 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 must be followed by the 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 must be followed by the subjective mood, which we will discuss in blogs to follow.

Hypothetical Phrases are mentioned at the end of our list, 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 is a summary table at the end of each descriptive section that shows how to use these  additional groups that take the subjunctive mood in Italian. The present tense phrases are in the first two columns and the past tense phrases in the last two columns.  Notice that the imperfetto form of the past tense is given in our table for brevity, but the passato prossimo form of the past tense can also be used, depending on the situation.  Use of the past tense forms will be the topic of later blogs.

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.

 


 

Expressing One’s Feelings with “Di” and “Che” and the Italian Subjunctive Mood

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 Use the Phrase “Avere bisogno di…” in Italian

Before we go on to discuss more complex uses of the phrases in the table above, here is a brief description of how to use the very popular phrase, “ho bisogno di…” which means, “I need…”   Any beginning student of Italian no doubt has come across this phrase many times in general conversation and has already used it to express what he/she wants.

While I was learning how to use the subjunctive mood properly, I took the opportunity to learn how to use “ho bisogno di” properly as well.  After many question and answer sessions with native Italian speakers, here is what I’ve found out about the different uses of this phrase in English and Italian.

First, use of the phrase “ho bisogno di” is limited to describing a need one has for a person, a thing (something) or a physical need.  Remember to conjugate the verb avere used in this phrase (“ho” is the io form of avere) if someone else besides you needs something.  Also, leave out the word “di,” which means “of” in this phrase when it is at the end of the sentence.

The phrases “Mi serve…” and “Mi servono…” can also mean, “I need…” The conjugation is like that of piacere.  (See below)

If a person needs to do something, but it is also necessary that he does it – he has to do it – then the verb dovere is used.   See some examples in the table below:

avere bisogno di to have need of…  
   
…a person Ho bisogno di… te.
   
…a thing/ something Ho bisogno di… una macchina nuova.
  Ho bisogno di… prendere una vacanza.
   
…a physical need Ho bisogno di… riposarsi.
   
Mi serve… I need… (one thing) Mi serve 1 millione di euro.
 Mi servono…  I need… (many things)  Mi servono tante cose.
   
dovere for what you have to do

(and need to do)

Devo cucinare il pranzo ogni sera.

When we come to more complex sentences, and the subject  wants to express what he/she wants another person to do, the phrase “ho bisogno di” is not used.  In other words, if I want someone to do something, I must use the verb voglio, with the subjunctive, as in, “Voglio che tu…”  This was an important point for me to learn, as in English I am constantly asking my children or family to do things by saying, “I need you to…”

For instance, take the sentence, “I need you to take care of the cats when I am on vacation.”  I am not sure if this phrase “I need you to…” is used commonly in other parts of  America, but it has become a habitual use in the Northeast and Midwest.  The Italian translation would be, “Voglio che tu ti prenda cura dei gatti quando io sono in vacanza.”  So, to use the phrase “ho bisogno di” we must really learn how to think in Italian!

Enjoy some more examples for how to use our phrases to express a need or want in Italian, and then create your own!

Ho bisogno di un grande abbraccio! I need a big hug!
Abbracci e baci sono due cose che ho bisogno! Hugs and kisses are two things that I need!
Non mi serve niente. I don’t need anything.
Non mi serve nient’altro. I don’t need anything else.
Mi serve di più caffè. I need more coffee.
Devo andare al mercato. I need to/have to go to the (outdoor) market.

Non abbiamo  bisogno di giorni migliori,

ma di persone che rendono migliori i nostri giorni!

We don’t need to have better days,

instead, people who make our days better!


 

Phrases Used to Express Feelings with “Che” and the Italian 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.

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 Italian 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)… che tu 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

 

 


Adverbial Clauses

Use of the Italian Subjunctive Mood

The final group of words we will discuss in this blog are called “adverbial clauses” and are given in the table. These words take the subjunctive mood when used to start a sentence, and use of these adverbial clauses implies that a second phrase is necessary to complete the sentence.

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 — Adverbial Clauses

 

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 mood when the subject in the first phrase is different from the subject in the second phrase; use Prima di + infinitive 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: The Present Tense Subjunctive Mood (Part 3)

How to Conjugate the Italian Subjunctive Mood Present Tense for -are, -ere, and -ire Verbs

A review from the second blog in this series:

To change any regular Italian infinitive verb into the present subjunctive mood, first drop the final -are, -ere, or -ire to create the stem. 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 introduced 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 – Present Tense
Subject Pronoun -are ending -ere ending -ire ending
io i a a
tu i a a
Lei/lei/lui i a a
       
noi iamo iamo iamo
voi iate iate iate
loro ino ano ano
  Tornare

(to return)

Vendere

(to sell)

Partire

(to leave)

(che)  io torni venda parta
(che) tu torni venda parta
(che) Lei/lei/lui torni venda parta
       
(che) noi torniamo vendiamo partiamo
(che) voi torniate vendiate partiate
(che) loro tornino vendano partano

*(The stressed syllable for the example verbs has been underlined in the table above.)

  1. When pronouncing the subjunctive verbs, the stress will fall in the same place as in the conjugated verb forms for the present tense. This will be in the beginning of the verb (first or second syllable) for the io, tu, Lei/lei, lui, and loro forms, and one syllable to the right (second or third syllable) for the noi and voi forms.
  2. Notice that all of the singular subjunctive endings (io, tu, Lei/lei lui) are the same for each infinitive form of the verb.
  3. Also, all the endings for the -ere and -ire verbs are identical in the first person!
  4. The noi and voi forms are the same for all infinitive verb forms as well.
  5. The noi form is identical to the present tense!

 


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

Here are the  Italian present 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 – Present Subjunctive Mood

(che) io debba I have to/must
(che) tu debba you (familiar) have to/must
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

debba you (polite) have to/must
she/he has to/must
     
(che) noi dobbiamo we have to/must
(che) voi dobbiate you all have to/must
(che) loro debbano they have to/must

 

  

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

che) io possa I am able to/can
(che) tu possa you (familiar) are able to/can
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

possa you (polite) are able to/can

she/he is able to/can

     
(che) noi possiamo we are able to/can
(che) voi possiate you all are able to/can
(che) loro possano they are able to/can

 

 

 Volere – to want/ to need – Present Subjunctive mode

(che) io voglia I want/need
(che) tu voglia you (familiar) want/need
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

voglia you (polite) want/need

she/he wants/needs

     
(che) noi vogliamo we want/need
(che) voi vogliate you all want/need
(che) loro vogliano they want/need

The Subjunctive Mood – Irregular Present Tense
Commonly Used Verbs

A review from the second blog in this series:

Here are the irregular  Italian present subjunctive forms for six commonly used  verbs in Italian.  It may be useful to commit these forms to memory, as these verbs are often used in the subjunctive mood in written and spoken Italian. Notice that the translation is the simple present tense in English.

Andare – to go – Present Subjunctive Mood

(che) io vada I go
(che) tu vada you (familiar) go
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

vada you (polite) go

she/he goes

     
(che) noi andiamo we go
(che) voi andiate you all go
(che) loro vadano they go

 

Dare – to give – Present Subjunctive Mood

(che) io dia I give
(che) tu dia you give
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

dia you give

she/he gives

     
(che) noi diamo we give
(che) voi diate you all give
(che) loro diano they give

 

Dire – to say/ to tell – Present Subjunctive Mood

(che) io dica I say/tell
(che) tu dica you (familiar) say/tell

 

(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

dica you (polite) say/tell

she/he says/tells

     
(che) noi diciamo we say/tell
(che) voi diciate you all say/tell
(che) loro dicano they say/tell
 

Fare – to do/ to make– Present Subjunctive Mood

(che) io faccia I do/ make
(che) tu faccia you (familiar) do/make

 

(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

faccia you (polite) do/make

she/he does/makes

     
(che) noi facciamo we do/make
(che) voi facciate you all do/make
(che) loro facciano they do/make

 

Sapere – to know (facts) – Present Subjunctive Mood

(che) io sappia I know
(che) tu sappia you (familiar) know
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

sappia you (polite) know

she/he knows

     
(che) noi sappiamo we know
(che) voi sappiate you all know
(che) loro sappiano they know

 

Venire – to come –  Present Subjunctive Mood

(che) io venga I come
(che) tu venga you (familiar) come
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

venga you (polite) come

she/he comes

     
(che) noi veniamo we come
(che) voi veniate you all come
(che) loro vengano they come

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

A review from the first blog in this series:

In the tables below are the 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!

 

Avere – to have – Present Subjunctive Mood

(che) io abbia I have
(che) tu abbia you (familiar) have
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

abbia you (polite) have

she/he has

     
(che) noi abbiamo we have
(che) voi abbiate you all have
(che) loro abbiano they have

 

Essere – to be – Present Subjunctive Mood

(che) io sia I am
(che) tu sia you (familiar) are
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

sia you (polite) are

he/he is

     
(che) noi siamo we are
(che) voi siate you all are
(che) loro siano they are

 

Stare – to stay (to be) – Present Subjunctive Mood

(che) io stia I stay (am)
(che) tu stia you (familiar) stay (are)
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

stia you (polite) stay (are)

she/he stays (is)

     
(che) noi stiamo we stay (are)
(che) voi stiate you all stay (are)
(che) loro stiano they stay (are)


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

Example Phrases Using the Present Tense
Italian Subjunctive Mood

To follow are some examples of how the Italian subjunctive mood in the present tense might be used in conversation during daily life. (In later blog posts in this series, we will cover examples of how to use the subjunctive when the introductory phrase is in the conditional or past tense.)

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?

Voglio che tu cucini una cena speciale per la festa stasera. I want that you cook a special dinner for the party tonight. =

I want you to cook a special dinner for the party tonight.

 
Ho paura che lui  guidi  troppo veloce. I am afraid he drives too fast.
   
Non sono certo che Lei ricordi questo giorno. I amnot certain that you (will) remember this day.

 

Non sono sicuro che noi ricordiamo questo posto speciale. I am not sure that we (will) remember this special  place.
   
Sono felice che voi incontriate  mio cugino oggi. I am happy (that) you all (are going) to meet my cousin today.
Sono fortunato che voi mangiate con me questa sera per il mio compleanno. I am lucky that you all are eating with me tonight for my birthday.

 

Temo che loro non siano persone perbene. I am afraid that they are not good people.
 
Mi auguro che loro facciano una buona vacanza. I hope that they have a good vacation.

 


 

The Italian Subjunctive Mood: Examples for 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 subjunctive mood. These phrases seem to be most useful in situations in which we talk about plans people would like to or have to make for themselves or others, and therefore helping verbs many times also come into play.

Lei deve prepare molto bene i tuoi documenti prima che tu debba andare al lavoro. She must prepare your papers very well before (that) you have to go to work. =

She has to prepare your papers very well before you have to go to work.

 
Prima che mio figlio possa andare dove vuole, io devo venire a casa. Before (that) my son can go where he wants, I have to come home. =

Before my son can go where he wants, I have to come home.

 
Prima che noi dobbiamo partire per Roma, dovete riposare un po’ in campagna. Before (that) we have to leave for Rome, you all must rest a little bit in the country. =

Before we have to leave for Rome, you all must rest a little bit in the country.

 
Prima che voi possiate andare a trovare* i vostri parenti in America, tuo padre deve guardagnare un sacco di soldi.** Before (that) you all can visit your relatives in America, your father must make a lot of money. =

Before you all can visit your relatives in America, your father must make a lot of money.

 
Il mio assistente deve portarli alla riunione prima che loro possano mangiare la cena. My assistant must take them to the meeting before (that) they can eat dinner. =

My assistant must take them to the meeting before they can 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 Adverbial Clauses

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 voglia andare in Italia, non è possibile ora. Although I want to go to Italy, it is not possible now.
 
Sebbene lui voglia andare all’università,  non ha ricevuto voti abastanza buoni al liceo. Although he wants to go to college, he did not get good enough grades in high school.
 
Sebbene noi vogliamo vivere bene, invece dobbiamo lavorare nel ristorante della famiglia per molti anni. Though we want to live well, we must work in the family restaurant for many years.
 
Perché la crostata sia fatta bene, si deve avere le fragle fresche. So that the pie is made well, one must have fresh strawberries. =

You  must have fresh strawberries so that the pie is made properly.

 
Vengo alla festa, purché lui non ci sia. I will come to the party, provided that he will not 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.

 

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!
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 these Stella Lucente Italian sites:
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 Subjunctive (Part 3) : Speak Italian!

Conversational Italian for Travelers Speak Italian!

Italian Subjunctive (Part 1): Speak Italian!

Italian Subjunctive (Part 1): Speak Italian!

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

 

Speak Italian: How to Use 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? Can you use the Italian subjunctive mood in the correct situations? 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 blogs in the “Speak Italian” blog series will focus on how to conjugate and 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 the phrases that take the subjunctive mood and the how to conjugate the subjunctive mood for avere, essere and stare in the present tense. Finally, we will learn about the verb chiedersi, which means “to wonder.” Example sentences will follow!

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 phrases that take the Italian subjunctive mood.

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

Finally, we will present common phrases 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 the first blog in this series, “Italian Subjunctive (Part 1): 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 Italian Subjunctive Mood (Part 1)

Introducing… Phrases That Take the Italian 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). The subjunctive mood is also used with the conditional tense, but this will be the topic of later blogs. These initial phrases imply uncertainty and trigger the subjunctive mood in the phrase to follow.

These groups are listed below:

Groups 1-6: “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…

 

In Italian, the introductory phrases listed above are usually followed by a “linking word,” which in turn introduces the phrase that follows.  This “linking word” is also known as a conjunction, and is the word che.  In this situation, che means that.  The clause that follows our introductory phrase will then describe what the uncertainty is about.

Note that the simple present or past tenses can also be used after the introductory phrases listed below, rather than the subjunctive mood, if you are speaking about a fact or something you believe to be true. This use will make perfect sense to the Italian listener, even when the subjective mood is otherwise commonly used.

To follow is a (long) list of phrases that can be used to introduce the subjunctive mood, with example from the present tense in the first two columns and the past tense in the last two columns. Notice that the imperfetto form of the past tense is given in our table for brevity, but the passato prossimo form of the past tense can also be used, depending on the situation.  Use of the past tense forms will be the topic of later blogs.

Phrases That Take the Subjunctive Mood

 

Present Tense
Subjunctive 
Phrase
Groups 1 and 2
    Past Tense
Subjunctive Phrase
Groups 1 and 2
 
Credo che I believe that Credevo che I believed that
Penso che I think that Pensavo che  I thought that
Spero che I hope that Speravo che I hoped that
         
È possibile che It is possible that Era possibile che It was possible that
È probablile che It is probable that Era probabile che It was probable that
       
È bene che It is fine/good that Era bene che It was fine/good that
Sarebbe bene che It would be good that Sarebbe stato bene che It would have been good that
È giusto che It is right that Era giusto che It was right that
È meglio  che It is better that Era meglio che It was better that
       
È incredible che It is incredible that Era incredibile che It was incredible that
È un peccato che It is a shame that Era un peccato che It was a shame that
È una vergogna che It is a disgrace that Era una vergogna che It was a disgrace that
È normale che It is normal that Era normale che It was normal that
       

 

Present Tense
Subjunctive 
Phrase
Groups 3, 4, 5 and 6
    Past Tense
Subjunctive Phrase
Groups 3, 4, 5 and 6
 
Non so che I don’t know that Non sapevo che I didn’t know that
Non so dove I don’t know where Non sapevo dove I didn’t know where
Non sono sicuro che I am not sure that Non ero sicuro che I wasn’t sure that
Non ho idea che I have no idea that Non avevo idea che I had no idea that
Non mi aspetto che I couldn’t wait that Non mi aspettavo che I couldn’t wait that
Non c’è nulla che There is nothing that Non c’era nulla che There was nothing that
       
Mi pare che It seems to me Mi pareva che It seemed to me
Mi sembra che It seems to me Mi sembrava che It seemed to me
Può darsi che Perhaps    
Ho l’impressione che I have the impression that Avevo l’impresione che I had the impression that
Suppongo che I suppose that Supponevo che I supposed that
Immagino che I imagine that Immaginavo che I imagined that
Sospetto che I suspect that Sospettavo che I suspected that
Dubito che I doubt that Dubitavo che I doubted that
Sono convinto che I am convinced that Ero convinto che I was convinced that
A meno che Unless    
Conviene che It is best that Conveniva che It was best that
Basta che It is enough that Bastava che It was enough that
Malgrado che In spite of that    
Si dice che It is said that Si diceva che It was said that
Dicono che They say that Dicevano che They said that
 Bisogna che  It’s necessary that  Bisognavo che  It was necessary that

*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.)

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

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: The Present Tense Subjunctive Mood (Part 1)

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

Here are the present tense subjunctive forms for the Italian auxiliary verbs avere, stare, and essere, which are often used in the subjunctive mood in written and spoken Italian.  Che is included in parentheses in the subject pronoun column as a reminder that these verb forms are typically introduced with  the conjunction che.  Also,  make sure to include the subject pronoun in your sentence after che for clarity, since the singular forms are identical.

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

Avere – to have – Subjunctive Mood

(che) io abbia I have
(che) tu abbia you (familiar) have
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

abbia you (polite) have

she/he has

     
(che) noi abbiamo we have
(che) voi abbiate you all have
(che) loro abbiano they have

 

Essere – to be – Subjunctive Mood

(che) io sia I am
(che) tu sia you (familiar) are
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

sia you (polite) are

he/he is

     
(che) noi siamo we are
(che) voi siate you all are
(che) loro siano they are

 

Stare – to stay (to be) – Subjunctive Mood

(che) io stia I stay (am)
(che) tu stia you (familiar) stay (are)
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

stia you (polite) stay (are)

she/he stays (is)

     
(che) noi stiamo we stay (are)
(che) voi stiate you all stay (are)
(che) loro stiano they stay (are)

Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mood (Part 1)

Example Phrases Using “Stare” in the Present Tense Subjunctive Mood

To follow are some examples of when the Italian subjunctive mood in the present tense might be used in conversation during daily life.  Notice that the English translation is the same for the present tense examples and the Italian subjunctive examples used in the sentences below.

We will start with sentences using stare (to stay/to be) in the subjunctive mood because this verb comes up very commonly in this modern life, when not a day seems to go by without an email being sent and received! The old formalities of opening and closing a letter have returned! After the greeting in an email, especially if there has not been recent communication, it is customary to mention a hope that all is well with friends and family. Here is a case for the subjunctive!

Present Tense
Phrase
Present Tense
Subjunctive Phrase
Tu stai bene. You (familiar) are well. Spero che tu stia bene. I hope that you (familiar) are well.
Lei sta bene. You (polite) are well.

She is well.

Spero che lei stia bene. I hope that you (polite) are well.

I hope that she is well.

Lui sta bene. He is well. Spero che lui stia bene. I hope that he is well.
La famiglia sta bene. The family is well. Spero che la tua famiglia* stia bene. I hope that the family* is well.
Tutti stanno bene. Everyone/body
is well.
Spero che tutti stiano bene.  I hope that everyone/everybody is well.

*Famiglia = family and is a collective noun and takes the third person singular.


Example Phrases Using “Avere” in the Present Tense Subjunctive Mood

We often close an email with a hope as well—for a nice weekend, for instance, or that we will see the person we have contacted sometime soon. In this case, the phrases we most commonly use will need to use avere (to have) in the subjunctive mood.

Present Tense
Phrase
Present Tense
Subjunctive Phrase
Buona settimana! Have a good week! Spero che tu abbia una buona settimana.

 

I hope that you have a good week!
Buon fine settimana! Have a good weekend! Spero che tu abbia un buon fine settimana.

 

I hope that you have a good weekend!
Buona giornata.

Buona serata.

Have a good day.

Have a good evening.

Spero che tu abbia una buona giornata/buona serata. I hope that you have a good day/evening.

 


Example Phrases Using “Essere” in the Present Tense Subjunctive Mood

The verb essere (to be) is commonly used when describing someone’s characteristics to someone else.  But what if we are not sure that someone possesses a certain characteristic, or we would like someone to possess a characteristic we fear they may not have? Then we must use the subjunctive mood in our sentence! Here are a few examples. How many more can you think of?

Present Tense
Phrase
Present Tense
Subjunctive Phrase
Lei è bella. She is beautiful. Mi sembra che lei sia bella. She seems beautiful to me.

(It seems to me that she is beautiful.)

L’insegnante è simpatico. The teacher is nice.  

Spero che l’insegnante sia simpatico.

 

I hope that the teacher is nice.
Dio è in cielo. God is in heaven.  

Credo che Dio sia in cielo.

 

I believe that God is in heaven.
L’attrice è brava in quel film. The actress is great in that film.  

Penso che l’attrice sia brava in quel film.

 

I think that the actress is great in that film.
Lui è fortunato. He is fortunate.  

Spero che lui sia fortunato.

 

I hope that he is fortunate.
Lei è contenta. She is happy.  

Mi pare che lei sia contenta.

 

She seems happy to me.

(It seems to me that she is happy.)

Loro sono bravi cantanti. They are wonderful singers.  

Può darsi che loro siano bravi cantanti.

 

Perhaps they are wonderful singers.
Lui è un bravo studente. He is a good student.  

Dubito che lui sia un bravo studente.

 

I doubt that he is a good student.
Lei è sposata. She is marrried. È probabile che lei sia sposata. She is probably married.

(It is probable that she is married.)

Loro sono ricchi. They are rich. È possibile che loro siano ricchi. It is possible that they are rich.

How to Use the Verb “To Wonder”
 “Chiedersi” 

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

The verb chiedersi,  from Rule 4, is worthy of special mention.  Chiedersi is the verb Italians use to describe the idea of “wondering” if something might happen.

“Mi chiedo…” literally means, “I ask myself,” which translates into “I wonder.” This verb is often followed by the Italian word for “if” to make the sentence, “Mi chiedo se…” or,  “I wonder if…”  Given that this phrase ends in the word “if,” at first glance it may seem to fall into the category of  improbable hypothetical phrases, which need a special conjugation (to be discussed in blogs to follow). But, cheidersi  in its present tense form actually takes the present  subjunctive mood,  just as the other phrases in Rule 4 that we have learned about.

So, you already know how to use this verb and can easily wonder about things that might be!

Below is an example of how to use the verb chiedersi.  We will revisit  chiedersi  again as we continue to learn about the subjunctive mood in blogs to come!

Mi chiedo se lui sia un attore bravo in quel film.
I wonder if he is a great actor in that film.

 

 


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!
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 these Stella Lucente Italian sites:
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 Subjunctive (Part 1): Speak Italian!