WHAT VERBS AND EXPRESSIONS TAKE THE SUBJUNCTIVE IN ITALIAN?

When learning Italian, you’ll surely come across a few challenging topics. Among these, one of the most notorious one is the Italian subjunctive mode.  But, although, it might seem not so easy to grasp, it’s easier than you think.  

WHAT IS THE SUBJUNCTIVE IN ITALIAN?

The Subjunctive is a  mood (a verb form) often used in Italian to express opinions, feelings or wishes. The Subjunctive is rarely used independently and is usually preceded by a main clause connected by the word che. For instance, Penso che (main clause) – l’Italia sia un Paese bellissimo (dependent clause.)

 

HOW TO USE THE SUBJUNCTIVE IN ITALIAN? 

It’s easier than you think: The rule of thumb is that the use of the Italian Subjunctive is determined by what comes before. There are some verbs that take the indicative and some verbs that take the subjunctive in Italian.

To master the “Art of the Subjunctive” you need to remember which verbs take the subjunctive in Italian.. 

 

WHY TO USE THE SUBJUNCTIVE IN ITALIAN? 

Learning how to use the Italian subjunctive correctly means that you will be able to communicate your feelings, opinions and wishes in Italian in the finest way.  

But it’s way easier in practise than in theory…

The  most common verbs taking the subjunctive in Italian are:

Pensare che – to think that

Credere che – to believe that

Immaginare che – to imagine that

Avere l’impressione che – to have the impression that

Supporre che – to suppose that

Dubitare che – to doubt that

Non sapere che – to not know that

Non essere sicuro che – to not be sure that

Non essere certo che – to not be certain that

Avere paura che – to be afraid that

Temere che – to be afraid that

Volere che  – to want that

Desiderare che – to wish that

Preferire che – to prefer  that

Sperare che – to hope that

in context
  • Penso che nevichi fuori – I think it snows outside
  • Voglio che arrivi l’estate – I want the summer to come 
  • Temo che sia andato via – I am afraid that he left

 

Expressions of feelings, such as

Essere felice che – to be happy that

Essere dispiaciuto che – to be sorry that

in context
  • sono felice che abbia vinto il premio – I am happy she won prize

 

Impersonal verbs.

Impersonal verbs are those without a determinate subject. 

basta che…  – it is enough (that) . . .

bisogna che… – it is necessary (that)

vale la pena che…  – it is worth (that)

si dice che… it’s said (that)

dicono che…  – they say(that)

sembra che…  – it seems (that)

in context
  • si dice l’Italia sia il più bel Paese al mondo – they say Italian is the most beautiful country in the world 

After certain Impersonal expressions

An impersonal expression is a sentence made by  the verb “to be” and an adjective or adverb, such as:

è bene che… – it is good (that)

è difficile che…– it is hard (that)

è facile che… – it is easy (that)

è giusto che… – it is right (that)

è importante che… – it is important (that)

è male che… – it is bad (that)

è meglio che… – it is better(that)

è necessario che… – it is necessary (that)

è peccato che…– it is a pity (that)

è possibile che… – it is possible (that)

è raro che… – it is rare (that)

è urgente che… – it is urgent (that)

in context
  • è raro che un bambino studi il cinese – it’s rare for a kid to study Chinese 
  • è possibile che Anna sia in ritardo – it’s possibile that Anna is late

When impersonal expressions point out certainty, the indicative is used in- stead of the subjunctive. The following expressions require the indicative, for example. 

è certo che… it is certain (that)

è evidente che… it is evident (that)

è ovvio che che…  it is obvious (that)

in context
  • è ovvio che che mente – it’s obvious that he lies 

 

All the above verbs and expressions require the subjunctive only when the subjects of the two phrases are different: 

 

  • Penso che lei abbia un figlio
  • Sono felice che abbia superato l’esame

 

 If subjects are the same, we use the construction DI + INFINITIVE

  • Penso di avere un bambino
  • Lei è felice di aver superato l’esame

 

THE SUBJUNCTIVE OF IRREGULAR VERB 

I have been asked often in my online Italian classes, what is that SIA there? Or, what is that ABBIA there? What about VADA or FACCIA?

They are, respectively, the irregular subjunctive conjugation of : essere, avere, andare e fare. It’s better to learn the irregular Italian subjunctive as they are very much common in the spoken language. Remember also that, the verbs that are irregular in the indicative, are also irregular in the subjunctive

  • Penso che sia interessante
  • Credo che abbia una seconda casa in Italia
  • Penso che vada al mare ogni giorno

 

THE TENSE OF THE ITALIAN SUBJUNCTIVE MOOD

The Italian subjunctive is a mood made of four tenses: the Present Subjunctive, the Past Subjunctive, the Imperfect subjunctive and Past-perfect Subjunctive. Knowing all these tenses will help you to master the Subjunctive Tense Consistency, which I will tackle in a different article.

 

 3 IMPORTANT  FACTS ABOUT THE SUBJUNCTIVE

  1. Using the subjunctive is a sign of education. There are also native Italian speakers that misuse or don’t use the subjunctive correctly.  You can tell they don’t have a high level of education. 
  2. Verbs that are irregular in the present indicative are also irregular in the present subjunctive.
  3. The use of subject pronoun (io, tu, lui, noi, voi, loro) is often required, as the first three persons of the conjugation are the same (io vada, tu vada, lui vada)

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