Italian conjunctions serve as connector words, bringing words, phrases, and clauses together, like one big, happy family. They're handy because they make expressing yourself a whole lot easier, and they save you time. For example, the phrase: devo andare a Parigi e a Londra per lavoro is the result of two phrases:
- Devo andare a Parigi per lavoro. - I have to go to Paris for work.
- Devo andare a Londra per lavoro. - I have to go to London for work.
Which, joined by means of the conjunction “e - and”, becomes: Devo andare a Parigi per lavoro e devo andare a Londra per lavoro. - I have to go to Paris for work, and I have to go to London for work.
But, really, what's easier to say is: Devo andare a Parigi e a Londra per lavoro. - I have to go to Paris and to London for work.
Types of Italian Conjunctions
There can be two types: coordinating conjunctions (congiunzioni coordinative), or conjunctions that combine two independent clauses, and subordinating conjunctions (congiunzioni subordinative) or conjunctions that combine a dependent clause with an independent one.
Congiunzioni coordinative: Join clauses or parts of syntactically equivalent clauses
A coordinating conjunction is, for example, the “e - and" in the preceding sentence: devo andare a Parigie a Londra per lavoro, where the elements brought together by the conjunction (a Parigi e a Londra) are equivalent from a syntactic point of view.
In practice, "coordination" means to combine two syntactically homogeneous terms:
- Two attributes of the same noun (una strada lunga e diritta - a long and straight street)
- Two subjects of the same verb (Sergio e Claudio scrivono - Sergio and Claudio write)
- Two verbs with the same subject (Sergio legge e scrive - Sergio reads and writes)
- Two subordinate clauses of the same principal (verrò domani, se ci siete e non disturbo - I'll come tomorrow, if you all are there and I'm not disturbing)
Congiunzioni subordinative: Combine one dependent clause with another (known as the principal or independent clause), and therefore modifies, completes, or clarifies the meaning
Examples of subordinating conjunctions are:
- Perché - Because
- Quando - When
- Se - If
- Non esco perché piove. - I'm not going out because it's raining.
- Non esco quando piove. - I don't go out when it rains.
- Non esco se piove. - I'm not going out if it rains.
Here the main clause “non esco” is on a different level with respect to the subordinates perché / quando / se piove: the latter add a determinant (causal, temporal, conditional), and act like a "complement" to the main clause.
What is clear, then, is the similarity between the subordinating conjunctions and the prepositions: the causal clause perché piove, introduced by the conjunction perché, is equivalent to a complement of cause per la pioggia, introduced by the preposition per.
Forms of Italian Conjunctions
With respect to their linguistic form, conjunctions are divided into:
Semplici (simple), if they are formed by a single word such as:
- E - And
- O - Or
- Anche - Also
- Ma - But
- Come - Like, as
- Che - That
- Né - Neither, nor, or
Composte (compound), if they are formed by two or more words joined together such as:
- Eppure (e pure) - Yet
- Oppure (o pure) - Yet
- Neanche (ne anche) - Neither
- Sebbene (se bene) - Although, even though
- Allorché (allora che) - When, as soon as
- Nondimeno (non di meno) - Nevertheless, regardless
- Perché (per ché) - Because
- Perciò (per ciò) - Therefore, for this reason, so
- Poiché (poi ché) - Since
Locuzioni congiuntive (subjunctive idioms), if they are comprised of multiple words written separately, such as:
- Per il fatto che - For the fact that
- Di modo che - So that
- Per la qual cosa - For which
- Anche se - Even if
- Dal momento che - From the moment that
- Ogni volta che - Each time that