I have read the following sentence in an Italian learning tool:

Io sono più vecchio di quanto tutti credano.

Is the subjunctive mood correctly used here? If so, why is it used?

1 Answer 1


Di quanto tutti credano is a proposizione comparativa. Normally (but there are plenty of exceptions in these topics) you use the indicative for the comparative of equality and the subjunctive for the comparative of majority or minority. From Serianni, Grammatica, XVI.227-233

[The comparative clauses of equality] have normally, in the explicit form, the indicative, although they allow also the conditional. [...] [The comparative clauses of inequality] allow the subjunctive, the indicative (today an indication of the least formal register, although once the indicative was used without restricitions) or the conditional if one wants "to emphasize the presence of the hypothesis in the action of the subordinate" (HERCZEG 1977: 343).

Some examples:

Oggi ho mangiato tanto quanto ho bevuto

Oggi ho mangiato più di quanto abbia bevuto

Oggi ho mangiato più di quanto ho bevuto (informal)

  • If I understood right, after verbs of request, order, permission, preference, advice, desire, need, feeling, possibility, doubt, supposition and expectation, the subjunctive is only used if the subject of the main clause is different from the subject of the dependent clause. Doesn't that apply here? Sep 25, 2019 at 22:26
  • @AlanEvangelista I think you are confusing the rule for explicit vs implicit constructions and the one for when to use the subjunctive. The implicit construction can be used only when the subject is the same as in the main clause, but don't need to be used. There's no rule like the one you refer to.
    – Denis Nardin
    Sep 26, 2019 at 6:13
  • AFAIK in French the subjunctive is only used after "[verb which trigger the subjunctive] + que" if the subjects in main and dependent clauses are different, otherwise you use the infinitive. All the Italian subjunctive examples I see of that usage do not use the same subject in both clauses and I concluded that Italian behaved as French. Could you give me a counterexample, please? Sep 26, 2019 at 12:52
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    @AlanEvangelista I am not sure if French really conforms to that rule. It is true that in those circumstances the implicit forms are more common in Italian as well, but for example Non credo che io abbia giocato male is perfectly grammatical, although Non credo di avere giocato male is more idiomatic. For an example where the previous sentence is used, imagine it read with a lot of emphasis on io, as if to suggest that someone else has played badly.
    – Denis Nardin
    Sep 26, 2019 at 13:06
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    @AlanEvangelista I checked on my faithful copy of the Bon Usage and the rule you claim is not true even in French (Bon Usage, 1128). Besides the usual barrage of special cases, the rules in French are more or less the same as in Italian. The implicit construction is mandatory only for certain verbs.
    – Denis Nardin
    Sep 26, 2019 at 13:22

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