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Italian Subjunctive Mood


In Italian language subjunctive mood is expanding and it’s active, however in modern English it’s disappearing. The subjunctive mood  expresses doubt, (I doubt they’ll come = io dubito che loro vengano), possibility, emotion or an uncertain event (I hope that you’ll come = spero che tu venga).

The Italian subjunctive is used mainly in subordinate clauses following a set phrase or conjunction, such as benchésenza cheprima che, or perché. As I already said, it is also used with verbs of doubt, possibility and expressing an opinion or desire, for example with credo cheè possibile che, and ritengo che, and with superlatives and virtual superlatives.

Ex: The most beautiful woman I know = La donna più bella che io conosca.

The present subjunctive is similar to the present indicative. Subject pronouns are often used with the present subjunctive where they are normally excluded in the indicative, since in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd person singular forms are wrote the same, then the person is not implicitly implied from the verb. Irregular verbs tend to follow the 1st person singular form, such as the present subjunctive forms of andare, which goes tovada etc (1st person sing form is vado).

The present subjunctive is used in a series of situations in sentences taking the subjunctive.

Ex: My mother want me to learn  Italian = mia madre vuole che io impari l’italiano.

Instead, the Italian imperfect subjunctive is utilized in subordinate clauses accepting the subjunctive when needs the imperfect tense.

Ex: I thought that Ada was not coming. = Pensavo che Ada non venisse.

It’s used also with IF , when the main clause is in conditional tense.

Ex: If I had more time, I would go on holiday. = se io avessi più tempo, vorrei andare in vacanza.

Ex: I would know if you were coming with him. = io saprei se tu venissi con lui

Finally the pluperfect and perfect subjunctive are made much like the indicative perfect and pluperfect, except the auxiliary (either avere or essere) verb takes the present and imperfect subjunctive respectively.

They are used in subordinate clauses which require the subjunctive, where the sense of the verb requires use of the perfect or pluperfect.

Es: Although he had not killed the boy, the police arrested the man.

The Italian language then is full of examples.

The conjunctive tense has four tenses: presente, imperfetto ( tempi semplici)

passato, trapassato ( tempi composti)

Congiuntivo presente (che io arrivi, che io prenda, che io senta)

Congiuntivo imperfetto (che io arrivassi, che io prendessi, che io sentissi)

Congiuntivo passato (che io sia arrivato/a, che io abbia preso, che io abbia sentito)

Congiuntivo trapassato (che io fossi arrivato/a, che io avessi preso, che io avessi sentito)

Subjunctive (Present – Past) = to eat= mangiare

Presente                                              Passato

Che io mangi                                       Che io abbia mangiato

Che tu mangi                                       che tu abbia mangiato

Che egli mangi                                    che egli abbia mangiato

Che noi mangiamo                              che noi abbiamo mangiato

Che voi mangiate                                che voi abbiate mangiato

Che essi mangino                                che essi abbiano mangiato

Cong.Imperfetto                                     Congiuntivo Trapassato

Che io mangiassi                                 Che io avessi mangiato

Che tu mangiassi                                 che tu avessi mangiato

Che egli mangiasse                             che egli avesse mangiato

Che noi mangiassimo                         che noi avessimo mangiato

Che voi mangiaste                               che voi aveste mangiato

Che essi mangiassero                         che essi avessero mangiato

Exercise: Fill the blanks


1) Voglio che …. = I hope that you are sleeping

2) Hai paura che io….. = You are worried that I’m right

3) Mi dispiace che ….. = I’m sorry that you are sad

4) Tu insisti che ………= You insist tha I live tomorrow

5) Speriamo che …….. = We hope that you stay here.

6) E’ possible che ……. =It is possibile that he is reading that book.

7) E’ difficile ……….. in quel pub = It is difficult for you to meet  her in that pub.

8) Sono contenta …….. = I’m happy that you are here.

9) ……….., vorrei imparare come si guida = If I( were you), I’d learn how to drive.

10) Io desidero ………. = I wish it were Friday.


1)      dormiate

2)      abbia ragione

3)     tu sia triste

4)     Io parta domani

5)     Voi restiate qui

6)     Lui legga quel libro

7)     che la incontrate

8)     Che tu sia qui

9)     Se io fossi in te

10)   Che sia venerdì

By Elisa Bressan

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