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Present subjunctive in Italian (congiuntivo presente)

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What is the congiuntivo presente in Italian?

The presente congiuntivo is one of the most used tenses of the subjunctive mood in Italian. It usually expresses unreal or hypothetical statements.

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How the present subjunctive is used in Italian

Usually, Italian speakers use the present subjunctive to:

  1. express wishes, order and hopes
  2. express doubts or hypothesis
  3. express an order or a desire (mainly in the main clause as a courtesy form)
ExamplesTranslation

Spero che il tuo esame vada bene.

I hope you will pass your exam.

Mi auguro che tu mangi quella torta.

I hope you will eat that cake.

Non voglio che si demoralizzi.

I don't want her to become disheartened.

Vada avanti, io la seguo. 

You go forward, I'll follow!

    Where does the congiuntivo presente occur?

    If it is used correctly, the present subjunctive in Italian appears:

    • in the che clauses: i.e. the objective, subjective and declarative sentences.
    • in the final clauses with affinché, poiché, in quanto, perché... (in order to, because, to...);
    • in the concessive clause with benché, sebbene, nonostante... (even though, although, albeit...);
    • in the temporal clauses with prima che, non appena... (before that, as soon as...);
    • in the conditional clauses with qualora, purché, nel caso in cui... (if, in case, as long as...).
    ExamplesTranslation
    Credo che Mattia sia ancora a Parigi.I think that Mattia is still in Paris.
    Ho chiamato il taxi affinché tu possa arrivare a casa più in fretta.I have called a cab so that you will reach your home faster.
    Benché egli sia il figlio di mia zia, lo reputo un fratello.Even if he is my aunt's son, I threat him like a brother.
    Prima che sia troppo tardi, vieni con noi!Before it is too late, come with us!
    Ti ascolterò, purché tu mi dica la verità.I will listen to you only if you are honest.


    How to conjugate the congiuntivo presente in Italian

    Below we will see how the present subjunctive in Italian is formed.

    Regular verbs in Italian present subjunctive

    Regular verbs in Italian present subjunctive are formed through specific endings. These endings are different according to the conjugations (-are, -ere, -ire).

    Verbs of -are conjugation

    Guardare (to look at, to watch)

     

    Root

    Ending

    Example

    Translation

    (Che) io

    guard

    -i

    Nonostante io guardi sempre la partita, non conosco tutti i giocatori.

    Even though I always watch the football game, I don't remember all the players' names.

    (Che) tu

    guard

    -i

    Non so se la guardi con occhi diversi, ma lei ormai è a disagio.

    I don't know if you are looking at her differently, but she feels uncomfortable by now.

    (Che) egli / ella

    guard

    -i

    Benché ella guardi spesso sé stessa con lucidità, talvolta è proprio irrazionale.

    Although she is looking at herself with a clear mind, sometimes she is really irrational.

    (Che) noi

    guard

    -iamo*

    Non appena guardiamo i difetti degli altri, dimentichiamo i nostri.

    As soon as we look at the others' flaws, we forget having them too.

    (Che) voi

    guard

    -iate*

    È importante che guardiate i dettagli del quadro per capire lo stile dell'artista.

    It is important for you to look closely at the picture details in order to understand the painter style.

    (Che) essi /esse

    guard

    -ino

    Nonostante guardino sempre prima di attraversare la strada, spesso i pedoni sono vittima di incidenti.

    Although pedestrians always look around before they cross the street, it's often dangerous for them.

     

    Verbs of -ere conjugation

    Temere (to be afraid of, to fear)
     RootEndingExampleTranslation
    (Che) iotem-aPenso che il mio gatto tema il rumore del vento.I think my cat is afraid of the sound of the wind.
    (Che) tutem-aMi auguro che tu non tema gli insetti.I hope you are not afraid of the insects.
    (Che) egli / ellatem-aBenché la loro figlia non tema il buio, la lasciano dormire con una luce accesa.Even though their daughter is not afraid of the dark, they let her sleep with the light on.
    (Che) noitem-iamo*Ci rassicurano affinché noi non temiamo il peggio.They are reassuring us iso that we don't fear the worst.
    (Che) voitem-iate*Non è necessario che voi lo temiate.It is not necessary for you to fear that.
    (Che) essi / essetem-anoNon credo proprio che loro ci temano.I don't believe they are afraid of us.

     

    Verbs of -ire conjugation

    Sentire (to hear)
     RootEndingExampleTranslation
    (Che) iosent-aFanno sempre in modo che io non li senta uscire al mattino.They always make sure that I don't hear them leaving in the morning.
    (Che) tusent-a

    È molto strano che tu non lo senta.

    It's really strange you aren't able to hear it.
    (Che) egli / ellasent-aVoglio che mi senta!I want her to hear me!
    (Che) noisent-iamo*Nonostante non ci sentiamo tutti i giorni, so che mi vuole bene.Even though we are not constantly in contact, I know she cares about me.
    (Che) voisent-iate*Forse ritiene che voi lo sentiate.Maybe he thinks you can hear him.
    (Che) essi / essesent-anoBenché non mi sentano, ho paura di cosa potrebbero pensare.Although they can't hear me, I am afraid of what they could think about me.

     

    enlightenedRemember! The Italian present subjunctive uses the same suffix of the presente indicativo for the 1° plural person (e.g. -iamo) and the same suffix for the 2° plural person in all the conjugations (-iate).

    Irregular verbs in Italian present subjunctive

    In Italian, there are many irregular verbs that don't follow any inflectional pattern or any grammatical rule. These verbs have to be studied by heart. Nonetheless, they can be gathered together inside the conjugation groups due to their infinitive suffixes (-are, -ere, -ire).

    Let's briefly see some examples.

    Verbs of -are conjugation

    The main and only irregular verbs of the 1° conjugation (their infinitive form ends with -are suffix) are: dare (to give), stare (to stay), andare (to go), fare (to do).

    Dare (to give)
     Verb formExampleTranslation
    (Che) iodiaVuole che gli dia il mio numero.She wants me to give her my number.
    (Che) tudia

    Pensa che tu dia confidenza agli estranei.

    He thinks you are to much friendly with strangers.
    (Che) egli / elladiaDia a suo fratello quel che le pare!Let her give her brother what she wants!
    (Che) noidiamoTemono che diamo tutti i vestiti vecchi in beneficienza.They're afraid that we give all the old clothes for charity.
    (Che) voidiatePrima che diate via quelle scarpe, controllatene lo stato.Before you will give away those shoes, check their status.
    (Che) essi / essedianoDubito che diano quei gadget gratis.I doubt that they are giving those gadgets for free.

     

    Stare (to stay, to be)
     Verb formExampleTranslation
    (Che) iostiaPensi che io stia qui a non far nulla?Do you think I am here doing nothing? 
    (Che) tustiaPerché tu stia bene, devi prenderti una pausa.You have to take a break to be fine.
    (Che) egli / ellastiaMi chiedo se stia bene.I wonder if she is fine.
    (Che) noistiamoPensate sempre che noi stiamo troppo tempo per conto nostro.You always think that we are staying too much time on our own.
    (Che) voistiatePer me è davvero importante che voi stiate bene qui.It's really important to me that you are fine here.
    (Che) essi / essestianoSono sicuro che stiano qui!I'm sure they are staying here!

     

    Andare (to go)
     Verb formExampleTranslation
    (Che) iovadaDesidera che io vada via per un po'.She wish I went away for a while.
    (Che) tuvadaNon voglio che tu vada alla festa senza di me.I don't want you to go to the party without me.
    (Che) egli / ellavadaDubito che vada a Manchester questa estate.I doubt she'll go to Manchester this summer.
    (Che) noiandiamo

    È meglio che andiamo via da qui.

    It's better for us to go away from here.
    (Che) voiandiatePrima che andiate, potreste gettare via la spazzatura?Before you go, could you throw away the trash?
    (Che) essi / essevadanoNonostante vadano di fretta, non dimenticano mai di salutare.Even though they always go away quickly, they never forget their goodbyes.

     

    Fare (to do, to make)
     Verb formExampleTranslation
    (Che) iofacciaPensa che io faccia troppo spesso la doccia.He thinks I take the shower too often.
    (Che) tufacciaPer evitare che tu faccia troppi sforzi, sono venuta ad aiutarti.I've come to help you to avoid you'll make a great deal of effort.
    (Che) egli / ellafacciaDicono che la plastica non faccia bene all'ambiente.They say plastic isn't good for the environment.
    (Che) noifacciamoCi stanno chiedendo cosa facciamo.They're asking us what we are doing.
    (Che) voifacciateTemo facciate tardi di nuovo.I'm afraid you will be late again.
    (Che) essi / essafaccianoNon ho idea di cosa facciano.I don't have a clue of what they're doing.

     

    Verbs of -ere conjugation

    The 2° conjugation (infinitive form ends with -ere suffix) of presente congiuntivo is probably the richest of irregular forms; here we have:

    • very common verbs: potere (to can), dovere (to must), sapere (to know), volere (to want);
    • the -gliere verbs: scegliere (to choose), togliere (to remove), cogliere (to grab);
    • other verbs: tradurre (to translate), rimanere (to remain), sedere (to sit), bere (to drink), porre (to put).
    Main irregular verbs for the Italian present subjunctive (2° conjugation)
     Potere (to can)Dovere (to must)Sapere (to know)Volere (to want)Scegliere (to choose)Porre (to put)Rimanere (to remain)Bere (to drink)Sedere (to sit)
    (Che) iopossadebbasappiavogliascelgapongarimangabevasieda
    (Che) tupossadebbasappiavogliascelgapongarimangabevasieda
    (Che) egli / ellapossadebbasappiavogliascelgapongarimangabevasieda
    (Che) noipossiamodobbiamosappiamovogliamoscegliamoponiamorimaniamobeviamosediamo
    (Che) voipossiatedobbiatesappiatevogliatescegliateponiaterimaniatebeviatesediate
    (Che) essi / essepossanodebbanosappianovoglianoscelganoponganorimanganobevanosiedano

     

    Verbs of -ire conjugation

    We can divide the 3° conjugation verbs (ending with -ire suffix) in two main groups:

    • verbs with the -isc- affix: finire (to finish), agire (to act), tradire (to betray), capire (to understand);
    • other verbs: dire (to say), uscire (to exit), morire (to die), venire ​(to come), udire (to hear), salire (to go up).
    Main irregular verbs for the Italian present subjunctive (3° conjugation)
     Finire (to finish)Dire (to say)Uscire (to exit)Morire (to die)Venire (to come)Udire (to hear)
    (Che) iofiniscadicaescamuoiavengaoda
    (Che) tufiniscadicaescamuoiavengaoda
    (Che) egli / ellafiniscadicaescamuoiavengaoda
    (Che) noifiniamodiciamousciamomoriamoveniamoudiamo
    (Che) voifiniatediciateusciatemoriateveniateudiate
    (Che) essi / essefiniscanodicanoescanomuoianovenganoodano

     

    The auxiliary verbs in Italian present subjunctive: essere / avere

    Essere (to be) and avere (to have) are the main auxiliary verbs in Italian.

    To be: che io sia

    Essere is the most irregular verb in Italian. Let's see the following examples.

     
     Verb formExampleTranslation
    (Che) iosiaBenché io sia altruista, c'è un limite a tutto.Although I am a generous person, there is a limit to everything.
    (Che) tusiaNon posso credere che sia tu!I can't believe you are the one!
    (Che) egli / ellasiaCredi sia lui la persona che cercano?Do you think he is the one they're looking for?
    (Che) noisiamoPenso che siamo nel posto giusto.I think we are in the right place.
    (Che) voisiateSpero voi siate sicuri di ciò che fate.I hope you are sure of what you are doing.
    (Che) essi / essesianoDubito che siano così antipatici come sembrano.I am not sure they are so unpleasant as they seem.

     

    To have: che io abbia

    Avere forms the present subjunctive irregularly as well.

     Verb formExampleTranslation
    (Che) ioabbiaNon credere che io non abbia sonno!Don't think that I am not tired!
    (Che) tuabbiaRitengo che tu abbia ragione.I think you are right.
    (Che) egli / ellaabbiaChe abbia perso le chiavi?Would he have lost his keys?
    (Che) noiabbiamoDirei che abbiamo tutto.I suppose we have everything.
    (Che) voiabbiatePenso che abbiate torto.I think you are wrong.
    (Che) essi / esseabbianoNon credo che abbiano le forze. I don't believe they are strong enough.

     


    Exercises

    1. Fill in the blanks with the correct form of the presente congiuntivo in Italian
    2. Choose the correct form of the present subjunctive of the following verbs

    Fill in the blanks with the correct form of the presente congiuntivo in Italian


    Choose the correct form of the present subjunctive of the following verbs


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