How to Use Conjunctions in Italian

Learn how to connect sentences with words like “but,” “and,” and “or” in Italian

Two people going to work in Paris
Two people going to work in Paris. Sam Edwards

When I was in school, we learned grammar through a series of videos called Schoolhouse Rock. Of all of the things I remember learning in school, the video on conjunctions stands out the most. To this day, I can still sing along with the video -- Conjunction, conjunction, what’s your function? Hooking up words and phrases and clauses...I got ‘and’, ‘but’, and ‘or’, they’ll get you pretty far...

And true to the song, that’s exactly what conjunctions are in Italian, too.

They 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

  • - 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


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Filippo, Michael San. "How to Use Conjunctions in Italian." ThoughtCo, Jan. 3, 2018, Filippo, Michael San. (2018, January 3). How to Use Conjunctions in Italian. Retrieved from Filippo, Michael San. "How to Use Conjunctions in Italian." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 23, 2018).