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Italian subjunctive (summary)

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The tenses belonging to the modo congiuntivo (subjunctive mood) express actions, placed in dependent and secondary clauses, related to opinions, desires, wishes, needs, and so on.

There are four different tenses in the Italian subjunctive:

  • present (congiuntivo presente);
  • imperfect (congiuntivo imperfetto);
  • present perfect (congiuntivo passato);
  • past perfect (congiuntivo trapassato).  

Conjugation of the Italian subjunctive

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Italian present subjunctive (congiuntivo presente)

An interesting pattern to take into notice is the vowel switch which takes place in conjugation: verbs from the I conjugation use i in their endings, whereas those from the II and the III use a.

 parlare, "to talk"vendere, "to sell"scrivere, "to write"
che ioparlivendascriva
che tuparlivendascriva
che luiparlivendascriva
che noiparliamovendiamoscriviamo
che voiparliatevendiatescriviate
che loroparlinovendanoscrivano

Still, there are many irregular verb conjugations worth paying attention to:


Italian imperfect subjunctive (congiuntivo perfetto)

The imperfect subjunctive is formed through substitution of the endings of the imperfect indicative with the following ones:

 parlare,"to talk"vendere, "to sell"scrivere, "to write"
che ioparlassivendessiscrivessi
che tuparlassivendessiscrivessi
che luiparlassevendessescrivesse
che noiparlassimovendessimoscrivessimo
che voiparlastevendestescriveste
che loroparlasserovendesseroscrivessero

Italian present perfect subjunctive (congiuntivo passato)

Unlike the previous two tenses, the present perfect subjunctive (congiuntivo passato) is a compound verb.

The conjugated forms of essere and avere (for intransitive and transitive verbs respectively) preceed the past participle form of the base verb.

 parlare, "to talk" (transitive) uscire, "to go out" (intransitive)
che ioabbia parlatosia uscito
che tuabbia parlatosia uscito
che luiabbia parlatosia uscito
che noiabbiamo parlatosiamo usciti
che voiabbiate parlatosiate usciti
che loroabbiano parlatosiano usciti

Italian past perfect subjunctive (congiuntivo trapassato)

The congiuntivo trapassato is also a compound verb.

It follows the very same set of the rules as the previous tense, with the auxiliary essere or avere conjugated differently.

 parlare, "to talk" (transitive)uscire, "to go out" (intransitive)
che ioavessi parlatofossi uscito
che tuavessi parlatofossi uscito
che luiavesse parlatofosse uscito
che noiavessimo parlatofossimo usciti
che voiaveste parlatofoste usciti
che loroavessero parlatofossero usciti

Use of the Italian subjunctive

The subjunctive has many functions in Italian, as it introduces subordinate clauses which integrate the sentence as either the subject or the object of the main verb.

Most of the time - but not always - subordinate sentences in Italian are introduced by the conjunction che.

Here some of the main uses for the subjunctive in Italian:

  • imposition of will and necessity;
È necessario che tu faccia di più per rimanere in questa compagnia.It is necessary that you do more in order to stay in this firm.
Volevamo che parlaste di altri argomenti durante la conferenza.We wanted you to discuss something else during the conference.
Ci aspettiamo che entro settembre tu abbia fatto progressi.We expect you to have made some progress by September.
È possibile che avesse già capito il problema tempo fa.It is possible that he had already understood the problem some time ago.


  • emotion and opinion;
A loro piace che il caffè sia ben caldo.They like the coffee to be well warm.
Speravo che veniste alla festa.I was hoping you would come to the party.
Sono felice che tu abbia superato l'esame.I am glad you have passed the exam.
Il fatto che fossero riusciti in quell'impresa rese la città orgogliosa.The fact that they succeeded in that effort made the city proud.


  • doubt and negation;
Non credo che Giancarlo possa aiutarci.I don't think Giancarlo could help us.
Non era vero che Veronica avesse paura di trasferirsi all'estero.It's not true that Veronica was afraid to move abroad.
Supponiamo che Andrea abbia trascorso la settimana viaggiando.We suppose Andrea has spent the whole week travelling.
Gli è sembrato che la pasta non fosse cotta abbastanza.It seemed to him that the pasta was not cooked enough.


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