The subjunctive – irregular verbs: Italian grammar lesson 204

Key Takeaways

Dive into the whimsical world of Italian subjunctive mood! This guide will help you express your deepest desires and doubts with flair, using irregular verbs like a native. Get ready to master the art of hopes, fears, and possibilities in Italian!

  • Subjunctive Mood Basics: The subjunctive is your go-to for anything hypothetical – from dreams to worries. Remember, it’s all about the ‘what ifs’ of life!
  • Irregular Verbs: Just when you thought you had verbs down, the subjunctive throws a curveball with irregulars. But fear not, patterns exist even in the chaos!
  • Conjugation is Key: Get chummy with verbs like essere, andare, and avere. Their subjunctive forms might just be your new best friends.
  • Examples Galore: Context is everything! See how these verbs play out in real sentences, so you can start slipping them into your chit-chat.
  • More Verbs, More Fun: Don’t stop at the basics. Verbs like dare, fare, and stare are waiting to spice up your subjunctive game.
  • Double Trouble: Tackle the double consonants in dovere and sapere. They might seem tricky, but they’ll make your Italian sound super slick.
  • Verb Variety: Mix it up with a cocktail of verbs like bere, dire, and venire. Variety is the spice of language, after all!
  • Practice Makes Perfect: Use these examples as a launchpad and start crafting your own sentences. The more you practice, the more natural it’ll feel!

Quick facts

When do we use the present subjunctive in Italian?

The present subjunctive is used for hopes, hypotheses, desires, fears, possibilities, and doubts.

Where is the subjunctive commonly found in a sentence?

It's mostly found after the main clause, usually preceded by conjunctions like "che," "a meno che non," "affinché," and "prima che."

How does the subjunctive form for 'io', 'tu', and 'lui/lei' compare?

For 'io,' 'tu,' and 'lui/lei,' the subjunctive endings are the same, simplifying conjugation.

How do subjunctive forms for 'noi' compare to the indicative?

For 'noi,' the subjunctive form looks exactly like the present indicative, making it easier to remember.

What are the subjunctive forms of the verb "essere"?

Essere: io sia, tu sia, lui/lei sia, noi siamo, voi siate, loro siano.

What is the pattern for irregular verbs like "dare," "fare," and "stare" in the subjunctive?

These verbs feature the recurrence of the letter 'i,' e.g., dare: io dia, tu dia, lui/lei dia.

Can "dovere" have multiple subjunctive forms?

Yes, "dovere" can be conjugated as io debba/deva, tu debba/deva, lui/lei debba/deva, giving flexibility in usage.

How do you form the subjunctive of "sapere"?

Sapere: io sappia, tu sappia, lui/lei sappia, noi sappiamo, voi sappiate, loro sappiano.

What is a characteristic of forming the subjunctive for verbs like "bere" and "dire"?

For verbs like "bere" and "dire," you maintain the root of the indicative form and add the subjunctive endings.

How do you conjugate "volere" in the present subjunctive?

Volere: io voglia, tu voglia, lui/lei voglia, noi vogliamo, voi vogliate, loro vogliano.

My Thoughts

What is present of the subjunctive?

Here we are again with the subjunctive. Before we carry on with irregular verbs, let’s just recap.

We use the present of the subjunctive to talk about hopes, hypotheses, desires, fears, possibilities, and doubts.

We find it mostly after the main clause, and it’s usually preceded by the conjunction che and expressions like a meno che non (unless), affinché (so that), and prima che (before).

Spero che Luca venga alla festa.

How to use the subjunctive with irregular verbs?

Those verbs that are irregular in the present of the indicative are also irregular in the subjunctive.

You’ll notice again that for io, tu and lui/lei the ending is the same; for noi, the subjunctive looks exactly like the present of the indicative, and the recurrence of the letter i in some cases.

Make sure you pay attention to this because it will help you memorize them.

Let’s start with some irregular verbs!

Mi auguro che tu scelga bene.

How to conjugate essere, andare, and avere?

Essere, andare and avere are the most common irregular verbs in Italian. Here’s their conjugation in the present of the subjunctive:

  • Essere: io sia, tu sia, lui/lei sia, noi siamo, voi siate, loro siano.
  • Andare: io vada, tu vada, lui/lei vada, noi andiamo, voi andiate, loro vadano.
  • Avere: io abbia, tu abbia, lui/lei abbia, noi abbiamo, voi abbiate, loro abbiano.

Let’s have a look at some examples:

Mi sembra che voi siate stanchi, volete andare a dormire?

It looks like you’re tired. Do you want to go to sleep?

Spero che Lucia vada dal dottore.

I hope Lucia goes to the doctor.

Non credo che loro abbiano voglia di venire.

I don’t think they want to come.

Desidero che tu scelga con saggezza.

How to conjugate dare, fare, and stare?

With these verbs, you’ll notice the recurrence of the letter i.

  • Dare: io dia, tu dia, lui/lei dia, noi diamo, voi diate, loro diano.
  • Fare: io faccia, tu faccia, lui/lei faccia, noi facciamo, voi facciate, loro facciano.
  • Stare: io stia, tu stia, lui/lei stia, noi stiamo, voi stiate, loro stiano.
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Here are some examples:

Spero che Luca mi dica la verità.

I hope Luca tells me the truth.

Non credo che facciano una festa.

I don’t think they’ll have a party.

È meglio che stiate a casa dato che piove.

It’s better that you stay at home since it’s raining.

How to conjugate dovere and sapere?

These two verbs are quite irregular and have double consonants. The verb dovere has two possible options for io, tu, lui/lei, and loro, so you can choose the one that’s easier for you!

  • Dovere: io debba/deva, tu debba/deva, lui/lei debba/deva, noi dobbiamo, voi dobbiate, loro debbano/devano.
  • Sapere: io sappia, tu sappia, lui/lei sappia, noi sappiamo, voi sappiate, loro sappiano.

Here are some more examples:

Non penso che lei debba venire.

I don’t think she has to come.

È meglio che lei sappia cosa ci hanno detto.

It’s better that she knows what they told us.

Practice with Quizlet

Here's a set of flashcards and quizzes to practice this grammar topic.

What are other irregular verbs?

Like with regular verbs, to form the present of the subjunctive of the following irregular verbs, you have to keep the root of the verb in the present of the indicative and add the corresponding endings, which are the following:

io a
tu a
lui/lei a
noi iamo
voi iate
loro ano / –iano
  • Bere: io beva, tu beva, lui/lei beva, noi beviamo, voi beviate, loro bevano.
  • Dire: io dica, tu dica, lui/lei dica, noi diciamo, voi diciate, loro dicano.
  • Potere: io possa, tu possa, lui/lei possa, noi possiamo, voi possiate, loro possano.
  • Rimanere: io rimanga, tu rimanga, lui/lei rimanga, noi rimaniamo, voi rimaniate, loro rimangano.
  • Scegliere: io scelga, tu scelga, lui/lei scelga, noi scegliamo, voi scegliate, loro scelgano.
  • Uscire: io esca, tu esca, lui/lei esca, noi usciamo, voi usciate, loro escano.
  • Venire: io venga, tu venga, lui/lei venga, noi veniamo, voi veniate, loro vengano.
  • Volere: io voglia, tu voglia, lui/lei voglia, noi vogliamo, voi vogliate, loro vogliano.

Let’s have a look at some examples:

Spero che lei possa andare in vacanza.

I hope she can go on holiday.

Non credo che loro escano stasera.

I don’t think they’re going out tonight.

Adriano pensa che voi non vogliate venire.

Adriano thinks that you don’t want to come.

Test your knowledge in 10 quick questions


Which Italian verbs are irregular in subjunctive?

Italian language learners should be aware that there are several irregular verbs in the Italian language. Out of these, "essere", "andare", and "avere" are the most frequently used ones.

What verbs take subjunctive in Italian?

When constructing an Italian sentence, the word "che" usually requires the use of the subjunctive mood. This is particularly true when using verbs such as "pensare" (to think), "credere" (to believe), and "sperare" (to hope). In these cases, the subjunctive is used after "che" to convey uncertainty or doubt.

Italian word of the day
Non capivo più niente dal sonno.
I was so tired that I couldn’t think.
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