WHAT VERBS/EXPRESSIONS DOES THE ITALIAN SUBJUNCTIVE USE?
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. Rest assured! Although, it might seem not too easy to grasp, it’s easier than you think.
What is the subjunctive in Italian?
The Subjunctive is a mood (a verb form) used to express opinions, feelings or wishes. The Italian subjunctive is rarely used independently and is usually preceded by a main clause connected by the word che.
Let’s have a look a this sentence, where you can see a typical use of the subjunctive.
Penso che (main clause) – l’Italia sia un Paese bellissimo (dependent clause)
Voglio che (main clause) – i miei figli abbiano successo negli studi (dependent clause)
Why to use the subjunctive in Italian is important
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.
WHEN 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.
An so, to master the “Art of the Subjunctive” all you need to do is to remember which verbs take the subjunctive in Italian.
Like aways, it’s way easier in practice than in theory…
MOST COMMON ITALIAN VERBS USING THE SUBJUNCTIVE
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
- 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
The subjunctive with expressions of feelings, such as
Essere felice che – to be happy that
Essere dispiaciuto che – to be sorry that
- sono felice che abbia vinto il premio – I am happy she won prize
The subjunctive with 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)
- si dice l’Italia sia il più bel Paese al mondo – they say Italian is the most beautiful country in the world
The subjunctive with 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)
- 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)
- è ovvio 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 VERBS
I have been asked often in my online Italian programs, 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 crucial to learn the irregular Italian subjunctives 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 TENSES 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 (or Consecutio Temporum), which I will tackle in a different article.
KEY POINTS ABOUT THE ITALIAN SUBJUNCTIVE
- 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.
- Verbs that are irregular in the present indicative are also irregular in the present subjunctive.
- 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)