Learn Italian! Blog on the Imperfetto Subjunctive for the Past Tense

Just the Verbs in Conversational Italian for Travelers
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

The Italian subjunctive mood – easy to conjugate but difficult to use!

This  fall, I’ve returned to my blog series about how to use the Italian subjunctive mood or il congiuntivo on my website blog,  blog.learntravelitalian.com.

On this blog I post about the intermediate and advanced Italian that I am currently learning.  For me, writing is the way that I come to a true understanding of how to use the Italian language – which for me is what it means to  learn Italian.

I write, and then one of my Italian instructors and I  discuss, I write, we discuss again, the instructor corrects and new points come to light, I write again… until I am satisfied I have Italian phrases I will use in real life on a particular topic.

I’ve been leaning about how to use the Italian subjunctive mood in daily conversation over the last three years and have found that – contrary to popular belief – the Italian subjunctive mood comes up often!  I find the Italian subjunctive in all written publications, from Italian novels to newspapers to “Oggi” magazine (the “People” magazine of Italy). And anyone who thinks that the Italian subjunctive doesn’t come up in conversational Italian should check their email greetings!

To read my earlier blogs about the Italian subjunctive mood, click here for a summary page on my blog,  blog.learntravelitalian.com.

The blog below is the first in my fall 2018 series about how to use the Italian subjunctive mood in the past tense.  Visit the Learn Italian!  blog post from September 10, 2018 to read the entire blog and get started learning how to express yourself more naturally and fluently in Italian – in the past tense!


Can you use the imperfetto subjunctive mood when you are speaking in the past tense? To express complex feelings in Italian correctly, it is important to use the Italian subjunctive mood. Using the subjunctive mood is difficult for English speakers, as we only rarely use this tense in English, and this is something that I am always working on! The next three blogs in the “Speak Italian” series will focus on how to conjugate and use the imperfetto Italian subjunctive mood, or “il congiuntivo” for speaking in the past tense.

In each blog in the “Speak Italian” series about the  imperfetto subjunctive mood (“il congiuntivo”),  we will first present phrases in the past tense that take the imperfetto subjunctive mood.

Then,  we will review how to conjugate the imperfetto subjunctive mood.

Finally, we will present common phrases from daily life that take the Italian subjunctive mood.

Remember these examples as “anchors” in your knowledge for when you must speak Italian and try out the imperfetto subjunctive mood in your next Italian conversation!

Enjoy the first blog in this series, “Imperfetto Subjunctive for Past Tense (Part 1): Speak Italian!”  —Kathryn Occhipinti

To read the full blog, click HERE.


For a reference book on Italian verbs, with an introduction on how to use the Italian subjunctive mood, try my Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Verbs book.

Coming in 2019 is an entire book on the Italian subjunctive mood that will cover all the material in my blogs!
Contact: info@learntravelitalian.com for preorders with the promo code: MOOD.

"Just the Verbs" from Conversational Italian for Travelers books
Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Verbs”a

Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

Conversational Italian Books – Review and July 4th Giveaway!

Conversational Italian for Travelers Books
Learn Conversational Italian books 2017
Conversational Italian for Travelers books exhibited by author Kathryn Occhipinti at the NIAF Gala Weekend in 2017

Update August 2019: The Conversational Italian.com website has been disabled for now.  All interactive dialogues and blogs from Stella Lucente, LLC can be found on LearnTravelItalian.com.


Grazie mille Aeine from Italian for Self Study for reviewing all three of my “Conversational Italian for Travelers” books!

Read all about what Aeine has to say about how to use my  “Conversational Italian for Travelers” reference books “Just the Verbs” and “Just the Grammar” along  with my pocket books of Italian phrases, “Just the Important Phrases”

…with a redesigned cover for “Just the Important Phrases for 2019, shown below:

Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases
Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases (with Restaurant Vocabulary and Idiomatic Expressions) is YOUR traveling companion in Italy! All the Italian phrases you need to know to enjoy your trip to Italy are right here and fit right into your pocket or purse.

found on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com, and now also on  Learn Conversational Italian.com.

(The rights to purchase the Conversational Italian for Travelers books in PDF format can also be obtained on my websites.)

Then, if you want to get started, LISTEN to the FREE  audio of the story about Caterina, the American girl who travels to Italy (played by me, of course) when she goes to visit her Italian family (each role played by native Italian speakers).

Each chapter of my books is built around the Italian spoken in these dialogues, which are available for FREE on my NEW website: Learn Conversational Italian.com.

When you open the homepage to  Learn Conversational Italian.com , you will find all of my blogs to learn both beginning and intermediate Italian (including the subjunctive mode).

When you click on the maroon Audio Tab on the homepage, the drop down bar will bring you to a green tab that reads:  Online Interactive Conversational Italian Dialogue .

The green tab  will take you to a page that lists Chapters 1 – 18 of my dialogues. From “At the Airport” to “At the Hotel and Restaurant.” Simply  click on the chapter you want to listen to and get started!  For a print out version of each dialogue, click on the “PDF” link on the top right hand corner.  It’s that easy.

And, of course, here is the link to my review! Click on the link and fill out a simple form to be entered in a drawing for a free pocket phrase book.  Good Luck! Conversational Italian Review and Giveaway by Aein Hope June 26, 2018,

How to talk about relationships and love… in Italian!

Italian Terms of Endearment
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

Valentines Day will be here again soon, and so will the need to say, “I love you,” in Italian! For the last couple of years, I’ve focused on finding important phrases  about dating and relationships in Italian when I read Italian novels or watch Italian movies, since these are phrases that are not usually listed in textbooks. Once I find these phrases, I run them by my Italian friends and instructors to see if and how they are really used.  After all, language is a “living thing,” and I’ve always been fascinated by how people use their language.

I’ve managed to piece together the following information how Italians talk about relationships, which is reprinted from my blog where I post what I have been learning for advanced students of Italian.  Italian Subjunctive (Part 4): Italian Hypothetical Phrases of Love.

For these advanced blogs, I typically provide a dialogue or story that uses the theme phrases, and then an explanation of the grammar needed to understand what I have written.  Feel free to click on the link to the blog above to read a dialogue about a girlfriend/boyfriend relationship and learn a bit about the subjunctive mood if you like!

Finally, I will leave a few phrases from Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and the Just the Important Phrases travel pocket book on  Amazon.com and www.Learn Travel Italian.com   and Amazon.com to help with your Valentine’s celebration!



Talking About Italian Relationships and Love


Today in America, we “date,” “go out on a date,” or refer to two people who are “dating,” from the first romantic encounter until they become married. After they are married, they can still have “date nights.” But be careful when translating American romantic experiences into Italian! The English verb “to date” as used in America today to refer to a romantic relationship does not have a literal translation in Italian.

Of course, to “court” a woman was common in past centuries, and the Italian language still reflects this. When a man tries to show he is interested in a woman, the phrase “fare la corte a…” is used from the verb corteggiare or “to court.”

If a woman wants to refer to dating a man, the following phrases can be used:

“Mi vedo un ragazzo.” “I’m seeing a boy.”
 “Esco con un ragazzo.” “I’m going out with a boy.”
“Il ragazzo con cui ho/avevo appuntamento.” “The boy with whom I have/had an appointment.”

There is another verb still in use in Italy today that refers to a man seducing, or “winning over,” a woman: “conquistare a… ” If a woman lets herself be “won over” or “captivated” by a man, she can use the phrase, “Mi lascio conquestare a…”

The usual Italian phrases used to refer to two people who have become romantically involved and are getting together regularly before marriage are “to go out with someone”“uscire con qualcuno”—or “seeing each other”“frequentarsi.”

Finally, to express a close romantic relationship in Italian, we can use the word “rapporto.” Any relationship in general is considered a “relazione.” But be careful, as an “affair” outside of marriage is also a “relazione,” whereas “affari” refers to more general personal and business “affairs.”


“Ti voglio bene” is an idiomatic expression in Italian, which translates roughly as, “I wish you well,” or better, “I care for you.”  It originates from the verb volersi, which takes on a different meaning than the verb volere.  The meaning of this verb is not easily translated into English, but is used often in Italy for many different situations.

“Ti voglio bene” is an old expression that is still used for platonic forms of caring and loving among family members and close friends in Italy today. The expression can be used between a boyfriend and a girlfriend and is also used between a husband and a wife. Watch some older Italian movies, and you will hear this expression often!

Mi voui bene? Do you care for/about me?
Ti voglio bene. I care for/about you.


The verb amare, which means “to love,” is reserved for romantic love—that one true love held between fiancée and fiancé, wife and husband.

Mi ami? Do you love me?
Ti amo. I love you.
Ti amo per sempre. I will always love you.


Just the Important Phrases from Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” (with Restaurant Vocabulary and Idiomatic Expressions)

Available on Amazon.com and www.Learn Travel Italian.com

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

Conversational Italian for Travelers Books, 2015

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.