HomeQ&ASubjunctive in Other Romance Languages

Subjunctive in Other Romance Languages

2
votes

This is a strange question/comment... I'm asking it more out of curiousity than of the need to know a definitive answer. I randomnly decided to look up Italian grammar today (I really have no idea why tongue laugh), and I decided to look up the subjunctive. Oddly, the lesson on the subjunctive stated that, in Italian, phrases such as "I believe that.." and "I think that..." call for the subjunctive. That totally breaks Lazarus' declaration rule, as in Spanish, those phrases would use the indicative. Since both Italian and Spanish are Romance languages, I would have thought that they both use the subjunctive in the same types of situations. But.... Obviously not. So... does anyone know why and if the Romance languages use the subjunctive differently? Is it common for the other Romance languages to use the subjunctive with phrases like "I think/believe that..."? Or am I just thinking too much that every Romance language must folllow the same types of rules?

7901 views
updated DIC 12, 2009
posted by Nick-Cortina
I am also very curious about this, Nick. Where did you look up the Italian grammar to find this explanation? - Janice, AGO 17, 2009
It was on italian.about.com. I was in a "language-y" kind of mood today, dablling in random French and Italian grammar. I'm gonna wait awhile, though, before I actually start studying those. One at a time. :-P - Nick-Cortina, AGO 17, 2009
Were you here? http://italian.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?zi=1/XJ/Ya&sdn=italian&zu=http://www.geocities.com/f_pollett/i-ind.htm - Janice, AGO 18, 2009

5 Answers

2
votes

Language, as any other living being, is a matter of degree. I don't think the use of the subjunctive in Italian for those "I believe that" or "I think that" is an exception of the declaration value of the indicative, it's just a logical option from this very meaning. Spanish flirts too with the non-declarative option with some 'weak' declarative matrices: "Supongo que sea simpático" is an option somewhat common in Latin America, though not in Spain, but you can listen to the similar "Sospechan que tenga relación con el crimen" in Spain. Those are cases of trying to soften the declaration with matrices more or less ambiguous in the speaker's commitment to the declaration (Creo que, Supongo que, Me temo que, Parece que...), and this trait makes them logically able to "play" with the degree of commitment the speaker wants to assume as his own declaration. But the proof that Italian works with the same modal meanings as Spanish are not only these 'proximities' in speaker's decisions, but especially the fact that not even Italian can "play" with matrices whose declarative meaning is impossible to dispute: you can not use subjunctive with "Sé qué, Está claro que, Está demostrado que, Es evidente que" in Spanish, nor in French, nor in Italian.

updated DIC 12, 2009
posted by rainstorys
great post - Izanoni1, DIC 12, 2009
I was just going to say that! :) - Valerie, DIC 12, 2009
2
votes

My first language is French and sentences starting with "I think that and I believe that" don't call for the subjunctive (what you say after that will determine the verb conjugation). In French you would need to use the subjuntive if you are giving a recommendation (I recommend "that you drink"....), expressing a wish, (I hope "that you sleep"...), expressing a need ("It is necessary that you complete..."), etc.

I believe it is the same as in Spanish (W.E.I.R.D.O.).

I hope this helps. Of course, I don't know anything about Italian.

updated AGO 18, 2009
posted by Lise-Laroche
1
vote

I went to about.com and was wondering if this is what you were referring to:

"Subjunctive expresses several shades of meaning; therefore, it is not left as a free choice, but has to be used when the sentence expresses one of the following situations:

  • whishing [sic], hoping, one's own thoughts

    ---I thought that they might come (it was my own consideration)

    ---we hope that you may leave (it is not sure you will be able to)

    ---they didn't imagine that he would have failed (it was their own consideration)"

And do I further understand that the example above with "I thought", the Spanish speaker would put the sentence's subordinate clause's verb in the subjunctive?

updated AGO 18, 2009
edited by Janice
posted by Janice
1
vote

Yes, that is the way the subjunctive works in Spanish. It's strange to me that Italian seems to "break" the rules with the subjunctive. I wonder if there's some historical reason for the differences in use of the subjunctive in Italian. Or maybe it relates to how Italian developed. Hmmm...I find this very interesting.

updated AGO 17, 2009
posted by Nick-Cortina
0
votes

The subjunctive is used differently in different Romance languages, and in Spanish this mood is used more frequently than in any other in this group. For example, in Italian, in sentences where a personal view is given or there is a hint uncertainty, like "creo que...", you'd use subjunctive, but not in French or Spanish (in Spanish that would be a declaration). Spanish uses subjunctive in many cases where Italian uses the future indicative, like in temporal sentences "cuando + subjunctive". There are coincidences in their use, but many cases where they are not.

You cannot extend "my rule" to other Romance languages.

updated AGO 18, 2009
edited by lazarus1907
posted by lazarus1907
You can or you can't? - Nick-Cortina, AGO 18, 2009
Silly me, I missed the 't after can. - lazarus1907, AGO 18, 2009
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