How to use “come se”: Italian grammar lesson 230

Summary

Dive into the Italian language and master the phrase “come se”, the gateway to hypotheticals and the subjunctive mood. You’ll learn to express “as if” scenarios like a native and navigate through past and present subjunctives with ease!

  • Remember “come se” as the go-to phrase for “as if” in Italian. It’s your secret sauce for cooking up hypotheticals that sound straight outta Rome! 🍝
  • Use “come se” to set the stage for something that’s not quite real but feels possible. It’s like pretending your cat understands politics. 🐱💭
  • Get friendly with the subjunctive mood after “come se”. It’s not as scary as it sounds, I promise—it’s just the Italian way to express doubts or dreams!
  • Choose imperfect subjunctive (congiuntivo imperfetto) for events that are happening or happened simultaneously with the main action. It’s like saying “He sings as if he were a star” while he’s still belting out tunes. 🎤✨
  • Opt for past perfect subjunctive (congiuntivo trapassato) when your hypothetical happened before the main event. It’s the “as if” for the history books. 📚
  • Practice with examples! The more you use “come se” in sentences, the more natural it’ll feel. It’s like muscle memory for your brain. 💪🧠

My thoughts

What does come se mean in Italian?

Today we’re going to focus on one of those expressions that trigger the Italian subjunctive: the Italian equivalent of as if.

Don’t worry about the subjunctive for now since we’re going to explain how to use it later on in this post.

Read the following sentence and its translation, and find how to say as if:

Mia nonna mi parla come se non mi conoscesse.

My grandmother talks to me as if she didn’t know me.

How to use come se in Italian?

We say come se, which should be easy to remember since it’s a very literal translation of as if.

We use this expression to talk about an imaginary situation or a situation that may not be true but that is likely or possible.

In other words, we use it when we’re giving a possible explanation for something or saying that something appears to be the case when it is not.

And again, come se triggers the subjunctive because it expresses a hypothetical possibility.

How to use come se and the subjunctive?

We have two options after come se:

  1. congiuntivo imperfetto (imperfect subjunctive)
  2. congiuntivo trapassato(past perfect subjunctive)

You’ll notice it’s the same in English when you look at the translations.

Come se + imperfect subjunctive

We use the congiuntivo imperfetto to talk about present or past events.

Also, we use this kind of subjunctive if the event in the main clause and the hypothetical event in the other clause happen or happened around the same time (not one before the other).

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Have a look at the examples to understand better:

Mi guarda come se fosse arrabbiato con me.

He looks at me as if he were angry at me.

Me l’ha raccontato come se io non lo sapessi già.

He told me that as if I didn’t know it already.

Come se + past perfect subjunctive

We use the congiuntivo trapassato to refer to a hypothetical event that happened before the event in the main clause.

Here are some examples:

È felice come se niente fosse successo.

She’s happy as if nothing had happened.

Si comportava come se non ci fossimo mai visti.

He behaved as if we had never seen each other.

Come se: examples

Let’s now look at some examples with the congiuntivo passato and the congiuntivo trapassato:

Mi fai sempre sentire come se non facessi mai nulla di buono.

You always make me feel as if I never did anything good.

Mi parlava come se io non capissi.

She spoke to me as if I didn’t understand.

Sta facendo le valigie come se andasse via per un anno.

He’s packing as if he left for a year.

Ci tratta come se noi avessimo rubato le sue cose.

He treats us as if we had stolen his things.

Me l’ha spiegato come se non l’avesse già fatto.

He explained it to me as if he hadn’t done so already.

È così contenta di partire come se non fosse mai stata in vacanza.

She’s so happy to go away as if she had never been on holiday.

What does "come se" mean?

In English it can be translated as as if.

How to use "come se" in Italian?

For talking about an imaginary situation or a situation that may not be true but that is likely or possible. That is why it triggers the use of the subjunctive.

When to use "come se" + imperfect subjunctive?

When the event in the main clause and the hypothetical event in the other clause happen or happened around the same time.

When to use "come se" + past perfect subjunctive?

When a hypothetical event happened before the event in the main clause.

Italian word of the day
passeggiata
Example
Hai voglia di fare una passeggiata?
Do you feel like going for a walk?
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