The Italian subjunctive
If you’re here, it means you probably already heard about the congiuntivo (the subjunctive).
If you haven’t, here’s a quick explanation of what it is: the subjunctive is a verbal mood (a verb category, like the indicative).
We usually use the subjunctive to talk about hopes, hypotheses, desires, fears, possibilities, and doubts.
There are four types of subjunctive in Italian:
- Congiuntivo presente (present subjunctive)
- Congiuntivo passato (past subjunctive)
- Congiuntivo imperfetto (imperfect subjunctive)
- Congiuntivo trapassato(past perfect subjunctive)
In today’s lesson, we’re going to focus on three words that need the subjunctive:
- qualunque, chiunque, ovunque + subjunctive
Words that need the subjunctive in Italian
There are many words that need the subjunctive.
In this post, we’re going to focus on those words that end in “-unque”, so it should be easy to spot them:
- Qualunque o qualsiasi: whichever
- Ovunque: wherever
- Chiunque: whoever
The “-unque” denotes generality or a degree of uncertainty.
So, since we use the subjunctive to express uncertainty, these words trigger the use of the subjunctive.
Just so you know, these words can be followed by any of the four subjunctives, depending on what you want to say.
Also, a phrase containing one of these words and the subjunctive needs to be completed with another phrase. It’s the same in English: you can’t just say “wherever you go” and that’s it.
You need to complete your sentence, like in the example below:
Vi seguirò ovunque voi andiate.
I’ll follow you wherever you go.
You can check out our blog post about other meanings of these words and how they’re formed.
Qualunque + subjunctive
Qualunque and qualsiasi are synonyms so they’re interchangeable.
They both mean “whichever“. It’s easy to remember this since you can split the words in two: quale (meaning “which”) + –unque or –siasi (meaning “ever”).
These words can be used as adjectives (words describing other words):
Qualunque vestito tu scelga ti starà bene.
Whichever dress you choose will look good on you.
Qualsiasi cosa tu dicessi, non le andrebbe bene.
Whichever thing you said wouldn’t be fine for her.
Qualunque cosa io avessi fatto non sarebbe stato abbastanza.
Whichever thing I did wouldn’t have been enough.
Ovunque + subjunctive
Ovunque means “wherever“. It’s a shortened version of dovunque (dove + unque= where + ever) and it’s much more common.
Here are some examples:
Saremo con te ovunque tu vada.
We’ll be with you wherever you go.
Verrei a trovarti ovunque tu fossi.
I’d come to see you wherever you are.
Chiunque + subjunctive
Chiunque means “whoever“. It’s easy to remember because it’s made up of chi (who) and unque (ever).
Here are some examples:
Chiunque dica che non è vero mente!
Whoever says it’s not true is lying.
Chiunque avesse voluto dire qualcosa avrebbe potuto farlo.
Whoever wanted to say something could have done so.
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