Expressing a possibility
As you might have realized after reading the previous lessons, the subjunctive is quite common. Once again, we use the subjunctive to talk about possibilities and chances.
In today’s lesson we’re going to focus on a very specific case: the use of “in caso” or “nel caso in cui”.
They are synonyms and mean “in the event that” or “in the case that”, and are always linked to the main clause.
As you can imagine, we’re talking about the chance of something happening and so, we need the subjunctive.
In caso + the subjunctive
We use these constructions to talk about a hypothetical situation and not something that’s definitely real. This is why we need the subjunctive.
Now, we could use this structure with all the types of subjunctive: presente, imperfetto, passato and trapassato.
Let’s have a look at the four possible options:
- In caso + congiuntivo presente: a more likely possibility in the present
- In caso + congiuntivo imperfetto: a less likely possibility in the present
- In caso + congiuntivo passato: a more likely possibility in the past
- In caso + congiuntivo trapassato: a less likely possibility in the past
Let’s compare these constructions with some examples in the present:
In caso tu voglia venire alla nostra festa, fammi sapere.
In (the likely) case you want to come to our party, let me know.
In caso tu volessi venire alla nostra festa, fammi sapere.
In (the not-so-likely) case you wanted to come to our party, let me know.
Now, let’s compare these constructions with some examples in the past:
Nel caso in cui tu abbia finito i compiti, puoi uscire.
In (the likely) case you finished your homework, you can go out.
Nel caso in cui tu avessi finito i compiti, puoi uscire.
In (the not-so-likely) case you finished your homework, you can go out.
In caso + subjunctive: examples
In order to understand this, we need to have a look at some more examples. Keep in mind “in caso” and “nel caso in cui” are synonyms, so they can be used interchangeably.
Make sure you pay attention to the likelihood of the possibility and whether it’s in the present or in the past.
In caso lei non possa lavorare, devi venire tu.
In case she can’t work, you have to come.
In caso non lo sappiate, bisogna finire tutto entro la prossima settimana.
In case you didn’t know, you need to finish everything by next week.
Nel caso in cui tu non abbia ricevuto il regalo, facci sapere.
In case you didn’t receive your present, let us know.
Nel caso in cui le cose non fossero andate bene, puoi chiamarci.
In case things didn’t go well, you can call us.
In caso fosse necessario comprare più cibo, possiamo andare al supermercato.
In case it was necessary to buy more food, we can go to the supermarket.
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