Subjunctive in Italian
In the following pages we are going to see in detail the use and the occurence of the subjunctive mood in Italian.
There are four main tenses for this mood:
|Simple tenses||Compound tenses|
The subjunctive is very common among the Italian speakers. It is used both in independent and dependent clauses.
Where to use the congiuntivo in Italian
In the independent clauses, it is possible to find the subjunctive to convey the following messages:
- a desire or a wish: e.g. Oh, se io fossi lì con te! (Oh, if I could be there with you!)
- a doubt or an assumption: e.g. Che abbia perso il treno? (What if he had lost the train?)
- an order or a proposal: e.g. Prego, vada prima lei di me! (Please, go before me!)
The most frequent use of the subjunctive mood in Italian can be observed in the dependent clauses.
Let's see in detail for what it is used for.
||Chiamerò il taxi affinché tu possa arrivare a casa sano e salvo.||I will call the cab in order that you would arrive home safe and sound.|
||Credo che tu abbia ragione.||I think you are right.|
||Ho paura che sia tardi.||I'm afraid it would be late.|
||Hanno cercato quale strada fosse la più breve.||They searched for the shorter way to go.|
||Pensano che il ladro abbia agito da solo.||They think that the thief did the rob alone.|
||Sono venuto con te in modo che noi potessimo parlare.||I came with you so that we could talk.|
||Sebbene loro non fossero ancora arrivati, era già tutto pronto.||Even though they weren't there yet, everything was ready.|
||Se voi poteste rispondere alla domanda, ve ne sarei grato.||If you could answer my question, I would be so thankful.|
||Andiamo a casa sua, prima che sia tardi.||Let's go to her house, before it would be too late.|
||Se tu non fossi stato così incauto, non ti saresti fatto male.||If you hadn't been so careless, you wouldn't have hurt yourself.|
Remember! The tense of the dependent clause and the one of the independent clause must present an agreement of tenses.
The agreement of tenses: consecution temporum
In order to preserve the grammaticality of the Italian sentences, tenses of the main clause and of the dependent clause must present an agreement.
Below, we will explain the main rules for this agreement (namely, consecutio temporum) in Italian.
For the subjunctive, we have to consider:
- The contemporaneity, that refers to an event that it is happening simultaneously both in the dependent and in the independent clause.
- The anteriority, that refers to an event that took place before the moment in which the speaker is talking.
|Main clause tense||Time relation||Dependent clause tense||Example||Translation|
|Present indicative or conditional||Anteriority||Past subjunctive||Credo che abbiano perso il treno.||I think that they lost the train.|
|Present indicative or conditional||Contemporaneity||Present subjunctive||Temo che non ci sia tempo.||I'm afraid there is no time for this.|
|Past indicative or conditional||Anteriority||Past perfect subjunctive||Ho pensato che avessero perso il treno.||I thought they had lost the train.|
|Past indicative or conditional||Contemporaneity||Imperfect subjunctive||Ho temuto che non ci fosse tempo.||I was afraid there wasn't time for this.|
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