The Italian Subjunctive Mode Part 2: Easy to Conjugate but Tricky to Use!

This blog about the Italian subjunctive mode, or il congiuntivo, is the second in a series on this topic that I’ve created for advanced students and teachers of Italian. Each blog post will focus on real-life situations and give examples of when the Italian subjunctive mode should be used. Below is an excerpt from the original post.

Visit the Learn Italian! blog post from June 5, 2016, to read the entire article and get started with learning how to express yourself more naturally and fluently in Italian!

Italian Subjunctive Mode:  Easy to Conjugate but Tricky to Use!

Verbs in Italian can have a subjunctive mode that is used to express doubt, uncertainty, desire, or a feeling.

The subjunctive mode is said to “open up” a conversation to discussion about a particular topic.

Certain phrases are commonly used to start a sentence in order to introduce the subjunctive mode, and these initial phrases will be in the indicative tense (the “usual” present or past tense). These initial phrases imply uncertainty and trigger the subjunctive mode in the phrase to follow.


Points to remember about the subjunctive mode:

 In Italian, the introductory phrases usually end with a linking word, also known as a conjunction, which will be che.  In this situation, che means that.  The clause that follows our introductory phrase will then describe what the uncertainty is about.

Note that the simple present or past tenses can also be used after the introductory phrases listed below, rather than the subjunctive mode, if you are speaking about a fact or something you believe to be true. This use will make perfect sense to the Italian listener, even when the subjective mode is otherwise commonly used.


In each blog post in the “Speak Italian” series about the subjunctive mode (“il congiuntivo”), phrases that take the Italian subjunctive mode will be presented. Then we will review the Italian conjugation for the subjunctive mode in the present and past tenses. Finally, examples of common phrases used in daily life with the subjunctive mode will be presented. Remember these examples as “anchors” in your knowledge for when you must speak Italian, and try out the subjunctive mode in your next Italian conversation!

Enjoy the second blog post in this series: Italian Subjunctive Mode (Part 2): Speak Italian!
—Kathryn Occhipinti

Some of this material is adapted from our textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC, found on Special thanks to Italian instructors Simona Giuggioli and Maria Vanessa Colapinto.

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