Following to a question that Gerry made in this thread:&

07/28/2009 - 06:22

Following to a question that Gerry made in this thread: ....


Can you explain why you used the congiuntivo presente tense in your first sentence in Italian, "sono felice che tu sia.......".  I thought this tense was only used in hypothetical or uncertain situations.


...I decided to dedicate a lesson to the Congiuntivo and how it is used in Italian.

Congiuntivo is used in secondary clauses when:

 - they're introduced by "che":

Mi ha detto che sarebbe venuto - He told me he would have come

E' impossibile che tutti i negozi siano chiusi! - Shops cannot be all closed!

- when the principal clause expresses feelings, doubt, uncertainty - see examples below:

Sono felice che tu sia qui - I'm happy you're here.

Credevo che il museo fosse più vicino - I thought that the museum was closer (than it actually is)

Non so se dovremmo andarci - I'm not sure if we should go there 

- they're introduced by linkers like:  sebbene, nonostante, anche se (although, even if) 

Andrei al concerto, anche se dovesse piovere - I would go to the concert, even if it rains.

Ho accettato la loro ordinazione, nonostante sia orario di chiusura - I've accepted their order, although we were about to close.

Periodo ipotetico - Hypothetic Clause 

There are three levels of hypothetic clauses, depending on their degree of uncertainty - the more they are related to past events or things unlikely to happen, the better we use subjective: 

Se piove non vengo - If it rains, I won't come 

Se dovesse piovere, non verrò - If it rained, I wouldn't come

Se avesse piovuto, non sarei venuta - If it had rained I wouldn't have come.

Using Congiuntivo in Italian

Ok, that was the rule, but now it would be better to have a look at daily conversations that may occur when talking with an Italian speaker - this is very likely to happen, since subjective is greatly used in Italian:

  • Giving advices:

Dovresti insistere, se vuoi che vengano - You should make pressure, if you would like them to come.

  • Making predictions. ATTENTION: even if the secondary clause is introduced by "se / if" we don't use subjective, because we are talking about future events. Compare the following examples:

Se i prezzi non scenderanno, la gente acquisterà sempre meno - If prices don't go down, people will buy lesser and lesser

Se la situazione rimanesse tale, non so come gli altri reagiranno - If things don't change, I don't know how they would react to that.

The former is making predictions while the latter expresses doubt.

  • Expressing wishes:

I want you to come in Italy with me - Voglio che tu venga in Italia con me.


Now it's up to you! 

Compiti per casa

  1. E' giusto che tu ____________ (andare) a teatro
  2. E' normale che voi _______________ (dovere) pagare i biglietti
  3. Non penso che lui ________ (avere) ragione
  4. Sei sicuro che non ci __________ (essere) altri spettacoli il prossimo week-end?
  5. Se tu  __________ (prenotare), saremmo sicuri di avere un posto a sedere

These links may be of help - concerning the tenses of italian subjective:


Enjoy today's lesson - even if I must admit that Subjective is not such an amusing thing.. 

Waiting for the exercise to be done... Buon lavoro!



A really useful book for people like me whose memory is appalling and needs constant revision on Italian grammar, is "Italian Verb Drills" available from WH Smith and published by Passport books. It goes through all the tenses very clearly, with lots of excercises. In fact it's about time I got mine out again as I 'm always very hazy about the subjunctive.

Valentina, Thanks for this lesson. I think the subjunctive is a tricky concept for British people as we don't use it much (and when we do, we're not often aware that we've used it!). I actually think it's quite elegant in Italian (more so than in French) and always feel really happy when I use it correctly (although I sometimes get the impression that many Italians are quite amused, even when used correctly, as it seems quite formal and they sometimes don't bother using it in casual conversion - or am I wrong?)One point of confusion: Non so se dovremmo andarci - I'm not sure if we should go thereThis doesn't seem to be the subjunctive to me - it's the conditional, surely. Similarly, Mi ha detto che sarebbe venuto - He told me he would have comeThis is a past conditional tense, no? Thanks for any clarification you can give!

In reply to by Fox

Hi Fox,you are at a pretty good level of knowledge re Italian Language!The two examples you highlighted are conditionals. I can now give you further explanations about those examples.

  1. First example: "Non so se dovremmo andarci" could be turned in the Subjective like that: "non so se sia il caso di andare"
  2. Second example: "Mi ha detto che sarebbe venuto" In this case we don't use Subjective, even if the clauses are introduced by a "che" conjuntion simply because it's reported speech.Think about this situation: Direct Speech: Mi ha detto: "verrò"; Reported speech: Mi ha detto che sarebbe venuto.

Sorry about the mistake, hope it makes sense now.