How to say the fact that in Italian
In today’s post, we’re going to see how to say the fact that in Italian.
Have a look at the sentence below:
Il fatto che lui menta è molto preoccupante.
The fact that he lies is very worrying.
As you can see, the equivalent of “the fact that” is very literal in Italian.
We just say il fatto che.
So, it sounds very easy, right?
However, as Shakespeare would say, “non tutto quello che luccica è oro” (“all that glitters is not gold”).
In fact, it’s not as easy as it seems.
And this is because il fatto che can be followed by either:
- a verb in the indicative
- a verb in the subjunctive
You’re probably familiar with the indicative because it’s the “normal” conjugation of verbs. Whereas the subjunctive is a bit more complicated.
There’s a reason why we may use one instead of the other.
So, we encourage you to keep reading!
We’ll try to make it easy for you.
Il fatto che + indicative
Since we’re talking about a “fact”, we’re probably referring to something certain that actually happened or is happening.
So, in theory, we could always use the indicative, since we use the subjunctive when we’re not sure.
However, we sometimes talk about a fact that we’re not sure about, so it really depends on how certain you are.
Think this way: if you’re sure about what you’re saying, you can use the indicative tense.
Here are some examples with the indicative:
Il fatto che sei mia sorella non mi fa cambiare idea.
The fact that you’re my sister doesn’t make me change my mind.
Non posso sopportare il fatto che ci hanno rubato i soldi.
I can’t stand the fact that they stole our money.
As you can see, we’re talking about facts we’re sure about.
Il fatto che + subjunctive
We use the subjunctive to talk about hypotheses, possibilities, doubts, and wishes.
We can therefore use the subjunctive after il fatto che if we’re talking about…
- A hypothesis
- A fact that we’re not sure about
- A fact that can be interpreted in a subjective way
- Something that was supposed to happen but didn’t (like a wish)
Here are some examples:
Anna: Il fatto che tu sia in ritardo non mi stupisce.
Bruno: Ma non sono tanto in ritardo!
Anna: The fact that you’re late doesn’t surprise me.
Bruno: But I’m not too late!
Here, to Anna, Bruno is late, but Bruno doesn’t agree. This is because time can be relative, even though we’re not justifying the fact that some people are definitely always late. 😊
Contavo sul fatto che tu facessi questo.
I was counting on the fact that you would do that.
As you can see, here the person speaking is talking about a wish in the past that probably didn’t come true.
Il fatto che + subjunctive or indicative?
Having explained when to use one or the other, let us tell you that sometimes people use one or the other without really thinking about how certain the fact is.
The difference is very subtle and even some Italian language teachers have to think about these rules before giving a good explanation.
So, you can use the indicative if it makes you feel more comfortable.
But you could also go for the subjunctive if you feel ready and sure.
In fact, you might hear people use the subjunctive even when an Italian teacher would say that, in theory, it’s incorrect.
In any case, it’s absolutely fine if you make a mistake on this. Probably no one will notice it. Or if they do, they probably won’t be able to explain why.
If you decide to use the subjunctive, note that you could use any of the four subjunctive tenses after il fatto che, depending on what you want to say.
Most of the time, it depends on the following time-related factors:
- If it’s an event in the past, present, or future (present or past subjunctive)
- If it’s an event that happened repeatedly in the past (imperfect subjunctive)
- If it’s an event that happened before the event in the main clause (past perfect subjunctive)
Let’s have a look at four examples with each subjunctive:
- Congiuntivo presente (present subjunctive)
Ci rende così felice il fatto che tu venga con noi.
The fact that you’re coming with us makes us so happy.
- Congiuntivo passato (past subjunctive)
Quanto invidio il fatto che tu sia andata al concerto!
I’m so jealous of the fact that you went to the concert!
- Congiuntivo imperfetto (imperfect subjunctive)
Il fatto che lui uscisse tutti i fine settimana mi dava fastidio.
The fact that he would go out every weekend annoyed me.
- Congiuntivo trapassato(past perfect subjunctive)
Apprezzavo il fatto che fossero venuti a trovarmi.
I appreciated the fact that they had come to see me.
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