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I have encountered some sentences in which the congiuntivo is used in constructions in which I don't understand its necessity nor its meaning:

Ogni anno il Post fa un articolo su come la nazionale faccia cagare. (comment on a rugby-related article)

La storia su come sia nato l’Om Ali è violenta tanto quanto una puntata de "Il Trono di Spade".

Why is it faccia and sia in these sentences? Does this add a connotation of doubt or disagreement on the part of the writer or on the part of the original author of the article/story?

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    Either that, or pretentiousness on the part of the writer: some use subjunctive (erroneously) as a mark of a higher linguistic register.
    – DaG
    Nov 13, 2022 at 13:59
  • @DaG I disagree - my gut impression is that subjunctive is mandatory in these sentences, I'll see if I can write a proper answer later
    – Denis Nardin
    Nov 13, 2022 at 15:28
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    @DenisNardin: If you find convincing sources about subjunctive being mandatory here, I'll be glad to change my mind. Personally, I feel about this as I do about propositions introduced by “il fatto che”, where both subjunctive and indicative moods are allowed (see for instance here): where one is actually speaking about a “fact”, my preference often goes to indicative.
    – DaG
    Nov 13, 2022 at 17:13
  • As an italian, congiuntivo here is required, not using it would result in an error. Let's see if I'm able to explain why properly in an answer
    – gbalduzzi
    Nov 14, 2022 at 15:33

1 Answer 1

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From Treccani:

L’indicativo tende ad alternarsi al congiuntivo anche dopo verbi dichiarativi come raccontare, notare, osservare, spiegare, dire, ecc. + che / come / quanto con i quali il parlante si limita a esporre fatti e a riportare parole altrui

Congiuntivo here does not imply doubt or uncertainty, it is used to mark the verbs that are just being reported from a different source.

Ogni anno il Post fa un articolo su come la nazionale faccia cagare

The Post claims that "La nazionale faccia cagare", not the speaker. It is just being reported.

EDIT: as highlighted in the comments to this answer, usually Italian reported speech does NOT use congiuntivo. The Treccani excerpt says "Tende ad alternarsi" because, based on the sentence construction, you may need to decide which mode is more appropriate.

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    That sounds a lot like in German (my native language) where the conjunctive is primarily used in reported speech. However, I thought that Italian did specifically NOT use the congiuntivo for reported speech and it is taught over and over again by text books that it should be "Lui ha detto che è..." and not "detto che sia...". Why is it a different matter when the speech being reported is an article rather than something someone said? I was under the impression that conguintivo in reported speech would only represent an imperative like. "Stai zitto!" --> Comanda che lui stia zitto.
    – JMC
    Nov 14, 2022 at 21:23
  • Does this treccani excerpt imply that constructions like "Afferma che sia... " or "il testimone dice che il sospetto sia andato...." could actually be valid?
    – JMC
    Nov 14, 2022 at 21:47
  • gbalduzzi, you took that excerpt slightly out of context. As another comment points out, as it is, it might seem to mean that to report someone else's words one routinely uses subjunctive, which of course is not the case. Could you rephrase it a bit? (That excerpt is from a Treccani article about subjunctive, so it merely lists cases where subjunctive may be used.)
    – DaG
    Nov 15, 2022 at 10:15
  • @DaG what does this excerpt actually mean? After thinking about it for a while I think it's actually meant to say that the congiuntivo is specifically NOT used with these verbi dichiarativi because they merely state facts or other people's statements. In which case it would actually kind of contradict the answer given here. I'm kind of struggling with interpreting "tende ad alternarsi" here.
    – JMC
    Nov 17, 2022 at 5:53
  • I think that much depends on the verb used and other particles. Compare "Il Post ... su come ... faccia cagare" and "Il Post dice che la nazionale fa cagare". The different constructions can lead to different choices about using the congiuntivo or not. Nov 17, 2022 at 6:54

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