I. Present subjunctive

In Italian the congiuntivo presente (present subjunctive) is a common and currently used form. Rather than stating facts (as with the indicative mood), it expresses doubtpossibilityuncertainty, or personal feelings. It can also express emotiondesire, or suggestions.

The endings of first-conjugation verbs in the present subjunctive are –i, –i, –i, –iamo, –iate, –ino. The endings for the second and third conjugations and all irregular verbs are –a, –a, –a, –amo, –iate, –ano.

I II III III (-isc-)
parl i vend a sent a finisc a
parl i vend a sent a finisc a
parl i vend a sent a finisc a
parl iamo vend iamo sent iamo fin   iamo
parl iate vend iate sent iate fin   iate
parl ino vend ano sent ano finisc ano

The subjunctive endings are attached to the stem of the verb in all cases.

The only exception is in cases of the –isc– verbs (ex. finire, pulire, spedire, restituire, etc.) of the third conjugation, in which case the –isc– of the present indicative appears in the first, second, and third persons singular and the third person plural.

Note: The “present tense” discussed in previous units is technically called the “present indicative.” The present (and the other indicative tenses) state facts; the subjunctive is less objective and is essentially a mood of doubt, uncertainty, emotions and personal reaction to facts, rather than a statement of them.

NOTE: In the irregular verbs, it is the stem that is irregular, but the verb is usually easily recognized if you know the present indicative. For example, observe the similarities between the indicative and the subjunctive of the verbs andare and venire.


Indicative                              Subjunctive

vado        andiamo           vada        andiamo

vai         andate                vada        andiate

va          vanno                vada        vadano


Indicative                              Subjunctive

vengo       veniamo           venga       veniamo

vieni       venite                 venga       veniate

viene       vengono           venga       vengano

Uses and translations of the subjunctive will be taken up in subsequent sections.


aduggi      overshadows (3d sing. pres. subj., aduggiare) agitarsi
to bustle
worthy, deserving
double, twofold
to swarm
gay, merry, cheerful
to arrive, to come (along)
muro  (pl. muri, mura)
was born (3d sing. past abs., nascere)
daily, everyday
tale, story
sia stata
has been (3d sing. f. pres. perf. subj., essere)



Last revised on March 28, 2021.

II. Imperative (polite forms)

One of the uses of the present subjunctive is to form the polite imperative (third person singular and plural). Note that, as in the case of the “true” imperatives, these forms are used without subject pronouns.

I II III III (-isc-)
Third person singular parli venda senta finisca
Third person plural parlino vendano sentano finiscano
Meaning speak sell hear finish


capocomico  director, producer facciano
do (3d pl. pres. subj., fare, =polite pl. imper)
to wound, to injure, to hurt
honeyed; unctuous
*nonneppure (=nonneanche)
not even
*per piacere (also per favore)
*pure (also pur) please, certainly, of course (emphatic adv., additional  translations are       possible,depending on usage)  sfacciatamente    impudently, cheekily; insolently
likely, probable; verisimilar
*via (adv.)


Last revised on January 30, 2017.

III. Present subjunctive (continued)

In Unit 15, section I, you learned that the present subjunctive form of irregular verbs can be traced back to the infinitive through the present indicative (the regular present tense). However, there are a few exceptions, listed here.  

avere                   dare                  essere

abbia                   dia                     sia

abbia                   dia                     sia

abbia                   dia                     sia

abbiamo             diamo                siamo

abbiate               diate                   siate

abbiano              diano                 siano

fare                    sapere                  stare

faccia                  sappia                  stia

faccia                  sappia                  stia

faccia                  sappia                  stia

facciamo            sappiamo              stiamo

facciate              sappiate                stiate

facciano              sappiano              stiano


Last revised on March 28, 2021.

IV. Subjunctive in subordinate clauses

The subjunctive is used in subordinate clauses, introduced by che (that), after expressions of emotion (joy, sorrow, fear, etc.), doubt, ignorance, will, desire, command, prohibition, preference, believing, thinking, hoping.

Common phrases that require the use of the subjunctive mood include:

Credo che… (I believe that…)
Suppongo che… (I suppose that…)
Immagino che… (I imagine that…)
È necessario che… (It is necessary that…)
Mi piace che… (I’d like that…)
Preferisco che… (I prefer that…)
Sono felice che… (I am happy that…)
Sono contento che… (I am content / happy that…)
Non vale la pena che… (It’s not worth it that…)
Non suggerisco che… (I’m not suggesting that…)
Può darsi che… (It’s possible that…)
Penso che… (I think that…)
Dubito che… (I doubt that…)
Temo che… (I fear that…)
Non sono certo che… (I’m not sure that…)
È probabile che… (It is probable that…)
Ho l’impressione che… (I have the impression that…)

This means that, if you encounter any iteration of these phrases above, the following clause must use the subjunctive. 

Sono contento che lui venga. –“I am glad (that) he is coming.”

Non so se lei lo sappia. –“I don’t know if she knows it.”

Egli dubita che Lei possa farlo. –“He doubts (that) you can do it.”

Preferiamo che tu vada con Carlo. –“We perfer that you go with Charles.”

Credo che loro lo sappiano. –“I believe (that) they know it.”

NOTE: The literal translation of the present subjunctive is “may” plus the meaning of the verb (che io lo faccia – “that I may do it”), but as these examples illustrate, the translation should always depend upon good English. Thus, Sono contento che lui venga means literally “I am glad that he may come,” but in standard, natural-sounding English, we have “I am glad he is coming (will come).”

NOTE: convenga, dica, and possa are 3d sing. pres. subj. forms of convenire (to suit, to be suitable, to be fitting), dire, and potere, respectively.


*alcuno (pron.)   anyone, anybody ciarlare
to talk idly, to chat, to chatter
colui che
he who of
to demand, to require
*fine (m.)
end, aim, object, goal
to deny; to refuse
foolishness, stupidity, stillness
superbia    arrogance, pride *talmente
so; to such an extent
to fear, to be afraid
fear, dread


 *alcun, alcuno (adj.)
not…any, no
senzaalcun           without any


to eat (something); to feed (on something)
(we) must, are to (1st pl. pres., dovere)
to go mad, crazy; to go out of one’s mind (cf. pazzo, mad, crazy)
 impronta    impression, mark
besides; moreover;  furthermore
*lettore (m.)     reader Luogotenenza      lieutenancy  ospite (m. or f.) host(ess); guest
  que’ = quei rabbuiarsi
to get sulk
wrong, mistaken (cf. sbagliare, to make a mistake; sbagliarsi, to be mistaken; sbaglio, mistake)
to iron
to get upset
valere (irreg.) quanto  to be equivalent to, to be the same as; to be worth *voltare le spalle (a qualcuno)
to turn one’s back on someone


Last revised on March 28, 2021.