Italian Italian Grammar Questions - Advanced For Advanced Learners

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Monday 31st of October 2005 07:30:13 AM
Italian grammar questions - advanced: Advanced Italian learners, post here any questions about Italian grammar.

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Monday 31st of October 2005 07:37:52 AM
How to use the Imperfetto Congiuntivo: Hi everybody,
I’ve been recently asked for an explanation about imperfetto congiuntivo (subjunctive).

As you may know, subjunctive mood is used after verbs
expressing hope, wish, desire, command, emotion,
opinion or doubt
such as sperare - to hope, desiderare
- to desire, volere - to want, essere felice –
to be happy, pensare – to think and dubitare -
to doubt and many others.

Subjunctive mood has 4 tenses: two simple tenses
(presente and imperfetto) and two compound tenses
(passato and trapassato)
The most used subjunctive tenses are presente and
Usually, the tense of the CONGIUNTIVO you need depends
on the tense of the verb in the main clause.
Here’s how to chose the right tense:

When the verb in the main clause is in present tense,
then use present or past subjunctive:
Penso che tu abbia ragione – I think you are right
Voglio che tu venga qui - I want you to come here
Sono felice che tu sia venuto - I’m happy that you have come

When the verb in the main clause is any indicative past tense (passato prossimo, imperfetto, passato remoto) or in conditional present tense, then use imperfetto subjunctive.
Pensavo che tu avessi ragione – I thought you were right
Volevo che tu venissi qui - I wanted you to come here
Vorrei che tu fossi qui – I wish you were here


Wednesday 02nd of November 2005 09:41:04 PM
Thanks very much Carla, I found that very helpful. I have such problems with trapassato! I seem to need that tense all the time when I speak in class because my Italian teacher is always telling me I'm supposed to be using it :)

Wednesday 02nd of November 2005 10:48:21 PM
Trapassato congiuntivo: Well, in fact I tried to make things more simple than they really are…
Of course, trapassato congiuntivo is used sometimes, but not very much in spoken language.
Italian speakers tend to use imperfetto indicativo instead…but that’s colloquial and not very correct. See, Italian verbs are sometimes tricky for Italian speakers too... and they often avoid to use certain tenses... :D

I’m preparing some lessons about verbs… I’ll give more details about subjunctive tenses. For now, here’s an explanation about the use of trapassato congiuntivo.

If the verb in the main clause is in any past indicative tense or conditional tense (with verbs volere, desiderare and preferire), then the subjunctive clause should be:

Congiuntivo imperfetto
when the action is simultaneous or future with respect to the action of the main clause
Vorrebbero che io raccontassi una storia - They would like me to tell a story (but I haven’t told it yet)
Volevo che tu mi telefonassi - I wanted you to call me (but in fact you haven’t called me yet)

Congiuntivo trapassato
when the action is already past with respect to the action of the main clause.
Non sapevo che fossero arrivati prima di noi - I didn’t know that they had arrived before us (but they had already arrived)
Era felice che voi foste venuti alla festa - She was happy that you had come to the party (you had come already)
In colloquial Italian, you may hear: “non sapevo che erano arrivati prima di noi” or “era felice che eravate venuti alla festa”. Those sentences are not correct but commonly used in spoken language.


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