I. Imperfect and pluperfect subjunctive

The endings of the imperfect subjunctive are the same for all verbs. They are –ssi, –ssi, –sse, –ssimo, –ste, –ssero. In all regular and most irregular verbs these endings are added to the infinitive after dropping the final –re.

parlare           avere             finire            potere

parlassi          avessi            finissi           potessi

parlassi          avessi            finissi           potessi

parlasse         avesse          finisse          potesse

parlassimo     avessimo       finissimo      potessimo

parlaste          aveste           finiste           poteste

parlassero      avessero        finissero       potessero

In a few irregular verbs the stem is irregular. The most important ones are listed below.

essere            fare               dire                stare

fossi             facessi           dicessi            stessi

fossi             facessi           dicessi            stessi

fosse            facesse          dicesse          stesse

fossimo        facessimo      dicessimo       stessimo

foste             faceste          diceste           steste

fossero         facessero       dicessero       stessero


The pluperfect subjunctive consists of the imperfect subjunctive of the auxiliary (avere or essere) plus the past participle of the main verb (avessi parlato, fossi partito, etc.)

The literal meaning of the imperfect subjunctive is “might” plus the meaning of the verb (ch’egli fosse– “that he might be”); and that of the pluperfect subjunctive is “might have” plus the meaning of the past participle of the main verb (che io avessi trovato– “that I might have found”; che tu fossi partito– “that you might have left”). The words “might” and “might have,” though, may be left out of the translation.

Credevo ch’egli fosse partito. –“I thought (believed) he had left.”

In general, the imperfect subjunctive and the pluperfect subjunctive are used, like the present subjunctive and the present perfect subjunctive, in subordinate clauses introduced by che after expressions of doubt, emotion, uncertainity, etc. (See sections LV and LVI). The main difference between these four tenses is one of sequence of tenses. A main verb in the present, future, or imperative takes a verb in the present or present perfect subjunctive in the subordinate clause. A main verb in a past tense or in the conditional takes a verb in the imperfect or pluperfect subjunctive in the subordinate clause. A main verb in the present perfect may, however, take either the present or the imperfect subjunctive in the dependent clause, depending on the meaning. Examine for example:

Son contento ch’egli lo faccia. –“I am glad (that) he is doing it (will do it).”

Son contento ch’egli l’abbia fatto. –“I am glad (that) he did it.”

Credevo ch’egli giocasse. –“I thought (that) he was playing.”

Credevo ch’egli avesse giocato. –“I thought (that) he had played.”

Ho ordinato ch’egli parta. –“I have ordered him to leave.” (now)

Ho ordinato ch’egli partisse. –“I ordered him to leave.” (then)


VOCABULARY A

barca
boat
caddi
fell (1st sing. past abs., cadere)
calle
path (poetic)
cieco
blind
*cielo
sky, heaven; (in Exercise E: sphere)
compone     composes, makes up (3d sing. pres. ind., comporre, comporsi) legno
wood (in material); (here) boat
lito
shore (poetic)
*mandare
to send
oltretomba  hereafter, beyond oscuro
dark
pelago
sea (poetic)
salvare
to save
*scala
stairway; stairs
*scendere
to descend, to go (come) down (irreg.)
selva
wood, forest
selvaggio
wild
smarrito
lost
tanto più (+ adverb)   all the more varcare
to pass
*volentieri
willingly, gladly,
with pleasure

VOCABULARY B

a tal che
so that
calzante
suitable, appropriate, fitting
*dietro di
behind
giurare
to swear
patrizio
patrician
pesso d’ (di)
[need not be translated; reinforces asino]
poscia
then
pugno
punch, blow (with the first)
*schiena
back (noun)
scorsi
perceived, saw (1st sing. past abs.,scoregere)
*udire
to hear
vendette
revenge, vengeance
volsi
turned (around) (1st sing. past abs., volgere, volgersi)

 VOCABULARY C

briga
trouble
dare mano a
to turn to, to have recourse to
die’ (= diede)
gave (3d sing. past abs., dare)
*disgrazia        misfortune
disporre
to dispose, to prepare
esercito
army
istruito
educated
ormai
now
rassicurare
to reassure
ricordi
memoirs
rimpocciolire
to make smaller or less important
*risposta
answer, reply
sciupare
to damage, to spoil, to ruin
stirpe (f.)
race, stock
valente
skillful, capable; clever

 

Last revised on January 30, 2017.

II. Conditional contrary to fact

The imperfect and pluperfect subjunctives are used in stating conditions contrary to fact.

Se avessi denaro, lo comprerei. –“If I had money, I would buy it.”

(Implication: But I have no money.)

Se avessi avuto denaro, l’avrei comprato. –“If I had had money, I would have bought it.” (Implication: But I had none.)


VOCABULARY

cavalleresco      chivalric; chivalrous debba (also deva)
must, has to (3d sing. pres. subj., dovere)
*dipingere
to paint
*finchè
as long as
fortezza
fortress
*impiegare
to employ; to spend
prodigare
to lavish (on)
*quando
even if; when
sfondo      background *trattarsi (di)
to be a matter (of) to be a question (of)

 

Last revised on January 30, 2017.

III. Irregular verbs

The irregularities of vedere (to see) are as follows:

Past absolute: vidi, vedesti, vide, vedemmo, vedeste, videro

Stem for future and conditional: vedr-: vedrò, etc.; vedrai, etc.

Past participle: visto (or veduto), conjugated with avere: ho visto (veduto), etc. **Note that veduto is not part of common modern Italian usage, though you may see it in older texts.

Conjugated like vedere: avvedersi (to perceive), prevedere (to forsee), provvedere (to provide), ravvedersi (to repent), and rivedere (to see again)


VOCABULARY

ad majorem

to the greater

*affatto
entirely, completely
a seconda che     according to whether, depending on whether *atteggiamento    attitude
componimento      composition concetto
concept; conception; idea; conceit (litt.)
gloriam
glory of English poetry (Latin)
*non punto
not at all
*precipuo (= principale)      principal, main *preso
taken (past part., prendere)
puntualmente     precisely, exactly *raffronto  comparison
riecheggiare
to re-echo
*rispecchiare
to reflect
*sbaglio
mistake
scia
trail; wake
scrupulosità = meticulosità seguito (m. noun) retinue, entourage *sera
evening
taluno
some, certain (indef. adj.)

 

Last revised on April 26, 2017.