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Italian Subjunctive Form

The subjunctive form is more emotional and less certain than the indicative form which expresses certainty and facts. The subjunctive form is subjective.

Look at the difference:


Paola ha una macchina nuova.
Paola has a new car.
This is a FACT.


Penso che Paola abbia una macchina nuova.
I think that Paola has a new car.
This is my opinion but I'm not sure.

We use the subjunctive form to express the following situations:

Necessity: E' necessario che tu vada a trovarlo. / It's necessary that you go and visit him.

: Io credo che lei sia troppo ansiosa. / I think that she's too highly -strung.

Hope: Speriamo che non dimentichino di venire. / Let's hope they don't forget to come.

Appearances: Sembra che siano veramente contenti. / They seem to be really happy.

Possibility: E' possibile che abbia mangiato troppo. / It's possible that you ate too much.

: E' probabile che arriviamo tardi. / It's probable that we will arrive late.

Importance: E' importante che tu sappia la verità. / It's important that you know the truth.

Fear: Ho paura che tu abbia sbagliato. / I'm afraid that you made a mistake.

Emotion: Mi dispiace che tu pensi così. / I'm sorry that you think like that.

Doubt: Dubito che abbia capito bene. / I doubt if he understood.

Desire: Vogliono che smettiate di fumare. / They want you to stop smoking.

Note that we use the subjunctive when the subject of the first clause is different from the subject of the subjunctive clause. When the subject of both clauses is the same, we use the infinitive form instead of the subjunctive.

2 different subjects: Io voglio che tu studi. / I want you to study.
1 subject: Io voglio studiare. / I want to study.

2 different subjects: Io dubito che lui abbia fatto bene. / I doubt that he did it well.
1 subject: Lui dubita di avere fatto bene. / He doubts that he did it well.

2 different subjects: Credo che (loro) siano coraggiosi. / I think they are brave.
1 subject
: (Loro) credono di essere coraggiosi. / They think they are brave.

Because all 3 singular forms of the subjunctive form are the same, sometimes it is necessary to use the subject pronoun in the subjunctive clause to be clear about who we are talking about.

Credo che tu abbia ragione. / I think you're right.

E' necessario che io faccia qualcosa. / It's necessary that I do something.

Vogliamo che lei ci aiuti. / We want her to help us.

Note that as a general rule of thumb we can say that if there is "che" (that) we use the subjunctive after it. Be careful however that if we use a verb of certainty we use the indicative after che.

Sappiamo che hai ragione. / We know you're right.

Vedo che sei stato colpito dalle notizie. / I see you've been struck by the news.

E' vero che fa molto caldo qui. / It's true that it's very hot here.

There are 4 subjunctive forms:

Present Subjunctive
Present Perfect Subjunctive
Imperfect Subjunctive
Past Perfect Subjunctive

See also:

Italian Course: Unit 21 The present subjunctive tense

Italian Course: Unit 23 The imperfect subjunctive tense

Italian Course: Unit 25 The pluperfect subjunctive

Italian Course: Unit 28 The present perfect subjunctive tense

Italian Verb Tenses Exercises Imperfect subjunctive, Past subjunctive, ...


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