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Il solo fatto che io mi stia preoccupando, però, dimostra che ...

I wonder if the word "solo" necessitates the use of Congiuntivo in the subordinate clause?

Or is it the word "fatto" that triggers it?

Or else, is it more about the idea that "I (by chance) happen to be worrying about it"?

  • 1
    Have a look at this answer. – Charo Jan 14 '18 at 17:55
  • 2
    Your question gives me the impression that you are thinking about the subjunctive in a somewhat unhelpful way. It is not a matter of being "triggered" by single words such as "solo" (and I cannot think of any situation in which an adverb or adjective would significantly influence the choice of mood). The subjunctive exists primarily in contexts that express an action that is not realized. This concept should be familiar to you if you have studied French and/or Spanish, but keep in mind that in Italian the choice of mood is influenced more (compared to French and Spanish) by register and style. – Gallego Jan 15 '18 at 4:05
  • The more important words to consider when evaluating the choice of mood are verbs, conjunctions, and relative structures. Look for expressions that indicate uncertainty, lack of realization, opinion, emotional reaction, or the “notion” of a verb rather than a concrete occurrence of the verb’s action. Adverbs and adjectives do come into play, however, when you have an exclusive or superlative structure (the only one that..., the most beautiful ___ that I’ve ever seen, etc.). The subjunctive is sometimes used with these expressions. – Gallego Jan 15 '18 at 4:23
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TL;DR: It is the word fatto that triggers it, but you may well also say Il solo fatto che mi sto preoccupando, però, dimostra che ...

This is a very good question. As you probably know, in a first approximation the subjunctive mood is only used in clauses where the verb expresses doubts, hopes, eventualities and so on (Spero che venga, Mi chiedo se sia il caso).

Nonetheless, there are cases where it is used – optionally or compulsorily – in subordinate clauses where “il congiuntivo non è portatore di specifici significati rispetto all'indicativo, ma può essere preferito ad esso per ragioni stilistiche, in quanto proprio di un registro più sorvegliato, oppure perché è richiesto da particolari reggenze” (Serianni, Italiano, XI.391), that is, where the subjunctive has not a meaning distinct from what the indicative would have, but custom or stylistic preferences (the subjunctive being considered somewhat more elegant) tend to require it: some objective, subjective, declarative and other clauses.

The construction with il fatto che is one of those; while what follows it is, more than anything else, not a doubt nor a hypothesis, but... a fact, the subjunctive mood is accepted and often preferred. To the remarks in my earlier answer, let me add a quotation from Renzi, Salvi and Cardinaletti's Grande Grammatica Italiana di Consultazione (vol. II, p. 479), which unfortunately I have no access to, but am quoting from someone else who quoted it:

Dopo nomi come fatto, circostanza o notizia, che esprimono esclusivamente la verità presupposta della frase subordinata, la scelta del modo dipende soprattutto dal predicato sovraordinato. In questi esempi anche quando la frase subordinata è all’inizio, si può avere sempre anche l’indicativo:

(299 a) Non posso nascondere la mia meraviglia per il fatto che tutti accettino / accettano supinamente questo sopruso.

(299 b) Le notizie che gli scioperi avessero / avevano cominciato a diffondersi in Unione Sovietica, cominciava[no] a farsi frequente.

(299 c) La circostanza che fossimo / eravamo tornati su una splendida automobile destò tanto più interesse per la nostra avventura.

The gist is that after fatto and similar, objective words you may use both indicative or subjunctive mood.

  • Hi. Does the adjective "solo" per se ever require Congiuntivo? – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Jan 14 '18 at 18:22
  • @alOne-zee: I cannot come up with any example where solo makes the difference, but I'm ready to stand corrected if anyone can. – DaG Jan 14 '18 at 18:35
  • This answer looks applicable – iBug Mar 2 at 7:12

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