How to use and conjugate the subjunctive in Italian

Italian subjunctive

Today we will learn the Italian subjunctive, most especially its present tense. As you know, it is one of the most mysterious verbal modes from the Romance languages, particularly Italian. But if we start using it in a practical manner, its mysteriousness just fades away.

More importantly, we need to bear in mind that phrases could occur in subjunctive in Italian but in English we will see them in their regular form, as the English verb is not as plastic.

Let us see some examples:

  • Sembra che loro non siano a casa (It seems they are not at home)

The Italian subjunctive (congiuntivo italiano) comes from the regular present tense.  First, second and third persons in the present tense’s conjugation show the same ending:

  • Tutti dicono che io sia una brava persona (Everybody says that I am a good person)
  • Mi pare che tu sia una brava persona (It seems to me that you are a good person)
  • Ho idea che lei sia una brava persona (I feel that she is a good person)

When verbs have an irregular present tense, the irregularity will keep appearing in the subjunctive in Italian. For example:

  • Farefaccio (indicative) – faccia (subjunctive). Penso che oggi faccia troppo freddo per andare al mare (I think today it’s too cold to go to the beach)
  • Volere: voglio (indicative) – voglia (subjunctive) Mi auguro che lei voglia uscire con me (I hope she wants to go out with me)

From the examples, it seems needless to point out that we use the subjunctive to express hypotheses and opinions.

When verbs end in -care and -gare, we add an -h- before the subjunctive ending to keep the stem’s last letter sound (-c and -g).

  • Spero che lei paghi non appena può (I hope she pays as soon as possible)
  • Penso che lui cerchi un altro lavoro (I think he is looking for another job)


Present tense: regular verbs



Present tense: irregular verbs



Present tense: irregular verbs




the subjunctive in Italian

Generally, the subjunctive is used in subordinate clauses. As we showed a few paragraphs above, we will particularly use it after verbs or expressions stating:

– Opinions or situations we are not completely sure about

For example, with such verbs and expressions as pensare, credere, si dice, non essere sicuro, è probabile, è possibile, and so on.

  • Penso che tu mi stia mentendo (I think you are lying to me)
  • Credo che tuo figlio mangi troppo (I think your son eats too much)
  • Non sono sicuro che il panificio sia aperto la domenica (I am not sure that the bakery is open on Sundays)
  • Dicono che siano buoni i tramezzini in quel bar (It is said tramezzini – a kind of cold sandwich – are good at that cafe)
  • È probabile che domani piova (It may rain tomorrow)

– Wishes or mood

For example, we may attach the subjunctive to verbs like sperare, essere contento/a, essere felice, etc.

  • Spero che non piova domani (I hope it won’t rain tomorrow)
  • Sono contento che Maria sia venuta (I’m glad Maria has come)

– Will

For example, with such verbs and expressions as volere, preferire, è meglio, è preferibile, bisogna, etc.

  • Voglio che tu sistemi la tua camera da letto (I want you to tidy up your room)
  • Preferisco che loro rimangano (I’d rather they stay)

– After certain words

Subjunctive may as well be used after some kinds of words like nonostante, sebbene, prima che, senza che, a patto che, a meno che, a condizione che, qualunque, tranne che.

  • Nonostante lei mi stia antipatica, ci devo lavorare tutti i giorni (Notwithstanding I don’t like her, I have to work along with her every day)
  • Sebbene piova, andrò lo stesso in giro con la mia bici (Although it is raining, I will ride my bike around anyway).
  • Voglio ringraziarlo prima che mi dimentichi di farlo (I want to thank him before I forget to do it)
  • Andrò a fare la spesa domani, a meno che non ci vada tu oggi (I will go shopping tomorrow, unless you go today)

– After affinché and perché

In this case affinché and perché mean “in order to”, “so that”, “for… to”.

  • Le ho comprato un biglietto del treno affinché vada all’università (I have bought a train ticket for her to go to college)
  • Ti do questo CD perché tu lo ascolti (I’ll give this CD to you so that you listen to it)

Also, it is important to keep in mind that we will deploy an infinitive instead of a subjunctive if the subjects in both main and subordinate clauses are the same:

  • Anna crede che lei (Anna) sia in ritardo (incorrect)
  • Anna crede di essere in ritardo (correct) (Anna thinks that she is late)

Every now and then, we find subjunctive verbs in independent sentences, when doubt needs to be expressed as a question:

  • Guarda com’è dimagrita Giovanna! Che si stia allenando? (Look how much weight Giovanna has lost! Is she training?)

Learn Italian

We hope this article is useful enough for you to learn Italian and sort out the complex Italian subjunctive once and for all.


Complete the sentences with the verbs in the present subjunctive.

1) Penso che Anna e Marco (essere) molto simpatici. 

2) Mi sembra che Luigi (avere) due fratelli.  

3) Spero che domani non (piovere).  

4) Maria preferisce che tu (andare) a casa sua.  

5) Sebbene Luisa   (mangiare) tanto, non ingrassa.

6) Andrea non mi ha salutato oggi. Che (essere) arrabbiato con me?  

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