Italian Essentials: Congiuntivo Presente (Present Subjunctive)

It's subjunctive week. Yesterday we looked at exactly what the subjunctive mood is, and how it is used. Today, we're going to take our first look at how the subjunctive mood is used in Italian, with the congiuntivo presente.

Il congiuntivo presente

The congiuntivo presente, or present subjunctive, describes an uncertain verb action in the present tense. It is formed with the following endings:

 -are-ere-ire-ire (2)
che io-i-a-a-isca
che tu-i-a-a-isca
che lui/lei-i-a-a-isca
che noi-iamo-iamo-iamo-iamo
che voi-iate-iate-iate-iate
che loro-ino-ano-ano-iscano

Basically, you reverse the -are and -ire endings, except for noi and voi, which get the same endings no matter what. So if you see an -ire verb with what appears to be an -are ending, that is your signal that you are seeing the subjunctive mood.

The only other thing to take note of are the second form -ire verbs, whose stems morph to add an isc before the ending, such as capire, which normally becomes capisco in the first person, but becomes capisca under the subjunctive mood. And the same applies in second and third person, and so on.

Examples

Here are a few examples of the congiuntivo presente.

lavare
Credo che lavino il cane molto spesso.
bere
Spero che non bevano molto.
mangiare
Penso che mangino.
dormire
Desidero che tu dorma comodamente.

If you've been practicing and studying, your ears will automatically pick up on the dischord of -are endings on -ire verbs, and vice-versa, and recognizing the subjunctive mood will be a piece of cake.

Tomorrow, we'll look at the congiuntivo imperfetto.


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