I read the sentence

Non posso disturbarle tranne / salvo / eccetto che non sia molto urgente.

illustrating the use of congiuntivo after tranno che.

In other languages, we would say

I can't disturb him except if this is very urgent.

It would be the same in French or German for instance. I don't really get why there is a negation. Is the english translation above correct and why is there a negation ? Couldn't we say

Non posso disturbarli tranne che sia molto urgente.

or what would be the sense of this last sentence ?

  • 1
    (It's tranne, not tranno.)
    – Andrea M
    Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 14:44
  • 1
    Did you check any Italian dictionary, such as this?
    – DaG
    Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 17:30

1 Answer 1


See Treccani, non, definition e.:

Usato pleonasticamente, si può trovare [...] dopo le locuz. congiuntive a meno che, salvo che, eccetto che e sim.: per poco non ci riuscivo; dovrò rinunciare all’acquisto, a meno che non mi faccia un prezzo speciale.

This means that that "non" can be omitted without changing the meaning of the sentence.

Non posso disturbarle eccetto che non sia molto urgente.


Non posso disturbarle eccetto che sia molto urgente.

Both translate as

I cannot disturb them unless it is very urgent.

More on this on https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negazione_espletiva - even French uses a similar structure sometimes, for example "avant que ne" + subjunctive.

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