Using the indicative and the subjunctive

Reminder: the term "indicative" refers to any verb form except the subjunctive, conditional or imperative. Generally speaking, we use the indicative to talk about a certainty and the subjunctive to talk about something that's not certain. 

We use the indicative after verbs that express certainty, like sapere (to know), confermare (to confirm), affermare (to assert) and dimostrare (to demonstrate), and verbs of perception, like sentire (to feel) and percepire (to sense).

Confermo che veniamo alla festa. venire, presente

I confirm that we are coming to the party.

Percepisco che è sincera. essere, presente

I sense that she is sincere.

We use the present subjunctive or the (indicative) future tense after verbs of opinion, like credere (to believe) and pensare (to think). You may hear some people use the present indicative in informal, everyday Italian, but that's not actually correct.

Penso che Luca sia già sveglio. essere, congiuntivo presente

I think Luca is already awake.

Penso che Elena verrà a pranzo domani. venire, futuro

I think Elena will come to lunch tomorrow.

We use the present subjunctive after certain impersonal expressions such as basta che (it's enough that), è necessario che (it's necessary that), è incredibile che (it's unbelievable that) and è improbabile che (it's unlikely that).

Basta che tu sia felice. essere, congiuntivo presente

It's enough that you are happy.

È necessario che vi parliate. parlare, congiuntivo presente

You need to speak with one another (literally, "it's necessary that you speak...").

We also use the subjunctive (present or past) after certain indefinite adjectives and pronouns (chiunque, anyone; qualunque, any; qualsiasi, any; etc.) and adverbs, such as ovunque (everywhere, wherever).

Qualsiasi sia la ragione, non è un comportamento adeguato. essere, congiuntivo presente

Whatever the reason may be, that's not appropriate behavior.

Chiunque sia stato, ha fatto un buon lavoro. essere, congiuntivo passato

Whoever it was, they did a good job.

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