Italian Subjunctive Mode (Part 3): Important Phrases to Remember

This blog post about the Italian subjunctive mode, or il congiuntivo, is the third in a series on this topic that I’ve created for advanced students and teachers of Italian. Each blog post focuses on real-life situations and gives examples of when the subjunctive mode should be used.

Reprinted from the original blog post below is an explanation of why the subjunctive mode is important in Italian, as well as a list of Italian words and phrases that take the Italian subjunctive mode. This is the full list of phrases that were discussed in the series. I hope you find this list useful!

Visit the Learn Italian! blog post from July 17, 2016, to read the entire article and get started learning how to express yourself more naturally and fluently in Italian!

Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mode (Part 3)

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.

In our first blog post about the Italian subjunctive mode, we learned that these initial phrases fall into several groups. We discussed Group 1  through Group 5.

In our second blog post about the Italian subjunctive mode, we discussed Groups 6 and 7.

These groups are again listed for review.

  1. Phrases that use the verbs credere (to believe), pensare (to think), and sperare (to hope). These verbs use the pattern: [verb  di + infinitive verb to describe the beliefs, thoughts, or hopes that one has. When the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the clause that follows, the pattern changes to [verb + che + subjunctive verb].*
  2. Impersonal constructions that begin with “It is…” such as “È possibile che…”
  3. Phrases that express a doubt, such as “I don’t know…” or “Non so che…”
  4. Phrases that express uncertainty, such as “It seems to me…” or “Mi sembra che…”
  5. Impersonal verbs followed by the conjunction che, such as “Basta che…” “It is enough that,” or “Si dice che…” “They say that…”
  6. Phrases that use the verbs volere and desiderare when the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the clause that follows. In this situation, these verbs will be followed by che.
  7. Phrases that use the verbs piacere and dispiacere when the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the clause that follows. In this situation, these verbs will be followed by che.
  8. Phrases that express feelings and use the pattern: [avere, essere, or augurarsi verb  +  di + infinitive verb]. When the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the clause that follows, the pattern changes to [avere, essere, or augurarsi verb + che + subjunctive verb].
  9. Sentences that begin with words that end in –ché, or complex conjunctions that end with che: affinché, perché (so as, so that, in order that), purché (as long as, provided that), a meno che (unless), può darsi che (it may be possible that, possibly, maybe), prima che (before that). Also the many words that mean although/though, one of which ends in -che: benché  (also sebenne, malgrado, nonostante).
  10. Sentences that begin with adjectives or pronouns that include the idea of any in a description of a person, place, or thing: qualsiasi, qualunque (any), chiunque (whoever), dovunque (anywhere).
  11. Sentences that begin with adjectives or pronouns that include the idea of nothing or only  in a description of a person, place, or thing: niente che, nulla che (nothing that), nessuno che (nobody that), l’unico, il solo, a che (the only one that).
  12. Phrases that begin with se (if) or come se (as if) in certain situations.

Click on the link to the original Learn Italian! blog post (Part 3) about the Italian subjunctive mode for an explanation of Groups 8 through 11. Group 12 will be the topic of a later series of blog posts on hypothetical phrases but is included here for completeness.

—Kathryn Occhipinti

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

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