Congiuntivo nelle frase indipendenti
The Subjunctive in Independent Clauses
Now that we have studied the Italian subjunctive mood’s relationship with the conditional mood as part of a two-clause sentence, it’s important that we go over the subjunctive in independent clauses. In other words, there are certain cases in which the subjunctive is necessary even in the absence of a subjunctive-trigger verb.
The first of these is an exhortative type of subjunctive, which, as the label states, expresses an exhortation or command:
Che entri il prossimo!
Next! (Literally: Whoever’s next, enter!)
The example above is that of an indirect command, which usually requires the subjunctive. These types of commands usually begin with che and are usually not aimed at a particular person. We can almost imagine that a subjunctive-trigger verb precedes this che as it would in a normal two-clause subjunctive phrase:
(Voglio/ordino/esigo) che entri il prossimo!
(I want/order/demand) whoever’s next to enter!
Additionally, the imperative borrows the subjunctive conjugations for the 3rd person singular--which is used for the formal Lei--and plural, and for the 1st person plural noi, since it does not have its own conjugations for these subjects:
Signora, paghi alla cassa per favore.
Maam, pay at the register please.
I tuoi compagni di band vadano a prendere gli strumenti!
Your bandmates (should) go get their instruments!
Vediamo questo film ora che abbiamo tempo!
Let’s see this movie now that we have time!
There are also a couple cases where the subjunctive is used in independent clauses to express disbelief through exclamation:
Che Mario sia così egoista!
Could Mario be that selfish?!
Che Maria abbia dimenticato l’appuntamento?!
Could Maria have forgotten about her appointment?!
or even general desires:
(Long) live Italy!
Magari uscisse il sole!
I hope the sun comes out!
Fossero qui con me!
(I wish/If only) they were here with me!
As you can see, in our second and third “general desire” examples above we use the imperfect subjunctive instead of the present subjunctive. That is because, in the second example, magari can easily be substituted with se solo--which equally captures the speaker’s sentiment--and the use of se triggers the imperfect subjunctive. The third example lacks magari, but the se solo (“if only”) is implied.