Forum Rocket Italian Italian Grammar Difference between subjunctive and present indicative

Difference between subjunctive and present indicative


Take the verb Potere. I understand that to say "I can" I would say Io posso but you translate Io possa as I can in the section on subjunctive (14.8). When do I use one vs. the other?

Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

Hi Tom,

Io posso is used "as it is", as in...
Io posso nuotare. I can swim.
(Io) ti posso aiutare? Can I help you?

The subjunctive conjugation, io possa, is used in front of "che":
Che io possa... That I can...
Pensi che io possa farcela? Do you think that I can do it?

The subjunctive has a shade of doubt that the indicative hasn't. For example, credere (to think, to believe), pensare (to think), ritenere (to believe, to retain) all use the subjunctive case.
Io posso farcela. I can do it. "It is certain that I can do it".
Non credo che io/tu/lui possa farcela.
I don't think that I/you/he can do it. "It is not certain that I/you/he can do it".

Hope this helps!



THank you for your explanation. I went back and re-read those sections but somehow your explanation is clearer. I appreciate it.

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