Italian CONJUNCTIONS – Learn italian Grammar

In this article we will have a look at all the most common ITALIAN CONJUNCTIONS in just a few minutes: what they are, what they express and how to use them! The shortest but most complete summary you will ever find!


What are conjunctions?

They are invariable parts of discourse that link two sentences or two words within a phrase, creating logical links among combined elements. 

Conjunctions can be either single words or expressions composed of two or more words together.

What is their function?

Italian conjunctions can have a COORDINATING and SUBORDINATING function.

A conjunction is COORDINATING when it connects two elements or two sentences which are equivalent (i.e. they have the same meaning) and which can be placed on the same level, from a logical point of view.

The coordinating conjunctions are divided into:


They connect two words or two phrases by simply placing them next to each other.

The positive ones are used in affirmative sentences (e, anche, inoltre, pure, per di più …); the negative ones are used in negative sentences (né, neanche, nemmeno, neppure …).

Mi piacciono le rose e i tulipani.

(I like roses and tulips).

È brava in tutto, anche in matematica.

(She is good at everything, even in math).

Non voglio cantare ballare.

(I don’t want neither sing nor dance).

Non ho mangiato nulla, nemmeno una mela.

(I haven’t eaten anything, not even an apple).


1 – When these conjunctions are used to combine elements introduced by prepositions, we often ask ourselves “Do I have to repeat the preposition or there is no need to?”.

There isn’t an exact rule about it. However, there is the tendency of not repeating it if that is a simple preposition (even though repeating it would not be wrong). Instead, it needs to be repeated if it is an articulated preposition. 

To explain myself better, I will show you some examples:

Siamo già stati in Portogallo, (in) Polonia e (in) Finlandia.

(We have already been in Portugal, in Poland and in Finland).


Abbiamo mandato gli inviti agli amici, ai parenti e alle persone che conosciamo bene. 

(We have sent the invitation to friends, relatives and the people we know well).

The reason why we need to repeat the articulated preposition is because the article could be different from word to word, as in the above example: “agli” suits “amici” but not “parenti” or “persone”.


These combine two words or sentences by putting them as alternatives. Among these, the most common ones are o, oppure, altrimenti

Vieni in macchina o in treno?

(Are you coming by car or by train?).

Non so se andare al cinema oppure al parco.

(I don’t know whether to go to the cinema or to the park).

Forse partirà stasera sul tardi; altrimenti domani.

(Maybe she will leave later tonight; otherwise tomorrow).


1 – For some time now, we have been hearing from Italians the expression piuttosto che (rather than) used with the disjunctive meaning of “oppure”

Well, this is completely WRONG!

Siete liberi di scegliere se mangiare all’esterno piuttosto che all’interno.

No! In this case, it should be:

Siete liberi di scegliere se mangiare all’esterno o / oppure all’interno.

(You are free to choose whether to eat outside or inside).

Piuttosto che means “invece di”, “anziché” (instead of).

Preferiamo mangiare all’interno piuttosto che (=anziché) all’esterno.

(We rather eat inside than outside).


They combine two words or phrases by putting them in contrast.

Among these, there are: ma, però, tuttavia, invece, piuttosto, bensì, ciononostante, anzi … 

La gonna è bella, però costa troppo.

(The skirt is pretty, but it’s too expensive).

Ho sbagliato a scrivere, ma mi sono corretta.

(I wrongly wrote, but then I corrected myself).

Pensavo che non mi sarebbe piaciuto, invece è stato molto bello.

(I thought I wouldn’t like it, but it was very nice).


1BENSÌ can be used only in negative sentences, like non …, bensì …

Non sono andato a Roma, bensì a Milano.

(I didn’t go to Rome, but to Milan).

2 – “Ma però” – Is it wrong or right?

At school, we learn that “ma però” and “ma bensì” are completely wrong. The Accademia della Crusca affirms:

< Per chiarezza si può subito anticipare che l’incontro delle due congiunzioni ma però (e di ma bensì) non è da condannare, a dispetto di quanto sostenuto da una certa tradizione grammaticale e spesso dall’educazione scolastica. >

< To be clear, we can anticipate that the meeting of the two conjunctions ma però (and ma bensì) is not to be condemned, despite what the grammatical tradition and often the school education claim. >

So, for many reasons that I won’t be telling you, they say that it is possible to use them.

Even Manzoni used them in his novel “I promessi sposi“: “Non era un conto che richiedesse una grande aritmetica; ma però c’era abbondantemente da fare una mangiatina“).

Personally, I usually avoid them because they sound a bit repetitive and redundant. However…it’s up to you!


These are used to explain or clarify something which was already mentioned, so that it is further developed and widened.

The conjunctions belonging to this category are:: infatti, cioè, ovvero, ossia, vale a dire, effettivamente, in realtà, difatti

 L’ho pagato 10 euro, cioè molto poco.

(I paid it 10 euros, which is very little).

Tornerò tra un mese, vale a dire ad agosto.

(I will come back in a month, namely in August).

È un ragazzo intelligente, infatti capisce tutto al volo.

(He is a smart guy, in fact he understands everything).


These connect two sentences of which the second one is the conclusion or the consequence of the first one. Among these, we find: quindi, dunque, perciò, allora, pertanto, per cui

Ho la febbre, perciò stasera non esco.

(I have a fever, so I am not going out tonight).

Sembrava che dovesse piovere, allora ho preso l’ombrello.

(It seemed like it was going to rain, so I got the umbrella).

Mi hai mentito, quindi non ti credo più.

(You lied to me, so I don’t believe you anymore).

Quel ristorante è molto buono, dunque te lo consiglio.

(That restaurant is excellent, so I recommend it).


These conjunctions establish a correspondence or a relationship between either two sentences or two words in the same phrase.

We are talking about: sia… sia/che…, né… né…, o… o…, non solo… ma anche…, tanto… quanto…

Non ho intenzione di parlargli, di chiedergli scusa.

(I won’t neither talk to him nor apologize).

Ho preso sia il treno che l’autobus per venire qui!

(I took both the train and the bus to get here!)

O mi lasci in pace o chiamo la polizia.

(It’s either you leave me alone or I’ll call the police).

Non solo ci hai mentito, ma hai anche parlato male di noi.

(Not only did you lie to us, but you also spoke badly of us).


1 – “Sia… sia” or “Sia… che”? Both are correct and widely used, but the first form “sia… sia” is considered more elegant, so I suggest you use this. Even the Accademia della Crusca recommends it. 

Also because, when used in a very long sentence, it helps to avoid misunderstandings. In fact, by using “sia… che”, you risk that the “CHE” could be confused with the other uses of “che”.

La mostra è adatta sia agli adulti, che apprezzeranno i quadri, sia ai bambini, che potranno divertirsi nella sezione creativa dedicata a loro.

(The exhibition is suitable for both adults, who will appreciate the paintings, and children, who can have fun in the creative section entirely dedicated to them).

A conjunction is defined SUBORDINATE when it combines two sentences creating a relationship of dependence, by placing them on different logical levels.

The subordinate conjunctions are divided into:


They indicate the cause or the reason of what is expressed in the main clause.

The most common ones are: perché, poiché, dato che, giacché, siccome, visto che, dal momento che, …

Ho messo la giacca perché avevo freddo.

(I put my jacket on because I was cold).

Arriverò tardi dato che devo prima andare dal medico.

(I will be late since I have to go to the doctor first).

Visto che l’autobus non arriva, vado a piedi.

(Since the bus isn’t coming, I’ll walk).


1 – The conjunction “perché” cannot be placed at the beginning of a sentence in Italian.

We will say

Ho messo la giacca perché avevo freddo.

But we can’t say

Perché avevo freddo, ho messo la giacca.

If you want to place the cause at the beginning of the sentence, you can use any of the other causal conjunctions:

Siccome avevo freddo, ho messo la giacca.

Dato che avevo freddo, ho messo la giacca.

Visto che avevo freddo, ho messo la giacca.

Poiché avevo freddo, ho messo la giacca.

Dal momento che avevo freddo, ho messo la giacca.

= (Since I was cold, I put my jacket on).

2 – You can find the conjunction “perché” at the beginning of a sentence only if that is the answer to a question which begins with “Perché…?”.

Perché hai messo la giacca?

Perché avevo freddo.

(Why did you put your jacket on? Because I was cold).


They indicate the purpose or the aim of what is expressed in the main clause: perché, affinché, in modo che, cosicché … 

Ho insistito affinché restassero.

(I insisted so that they stay).

Aspetteremo noi, cosicché voi possiate già tornare a casa.

(We’ll wait, so that you can go home).


1 – The final conjunctions always support a subjunctive.

Therefore, it is possible to distinguish between the causal “perché” (which uses the indicative) and the final “perché” (which uses the subjunctive).

Ti ho fatto venire qui in modo che potessi vederlo anche tu.

(I asked you to come here so that you could it see it too).

Ho chiamato Marco perché mi dicesse la verità. (Final)

(I called Marco to tell me the truth).


Ho chiamato Marco perché mi aveva detto la verità. (Causal)

(I called Marco because he told me the truth).


They express a time relationship between the actions described in both the main clause and the subordinate one.

These conjunctions are: quando, mentre, prima che, dopo che, appena, ogni volta che, finché, da quando, ogni qualvolta …

Ogni volta che ti vedo, mi batte il cuore.

(Every time I see you, my heart beats).

Torno dentro prima che inizi a piovere.

(I’m going back inside before it starts raining).

Ti scrivo appena arrivo a casa.

(I’ll text you as soon as I get home).

Mi piace camminare lungo la spiaggia mentre sono al mare.

(I like walking on the beach while I am at the sea).


They introduce a sentence which expresses the necessary condition for what is said in the main clause to take place.

Among these, we can find: se, a condizione che, purché, a patto che, …

Se non fosse così tardi, andrei al cinema.

(If it wasn’t so late, I’d go to the cinema).

Ti do un passaggio alla festa a patto che possa venire anche io.

(I’ll give you a ride to the party as long as I can come too).

Potrai uscire con i tuoi amici purché tu finisca prima i compiti.

(You can go out with your friends as long as you finish your homework first).


1 – The conditional conjunctions is followed by the subjunctive, except for “se”, which can also be followed by the indicative (type 1 hypothetical construction).

Se piove, non andiamo in spiaggia.

(If it rains, we won’t go to the beach).


Andiamo in spiaggia a condizione che non piova.

(We’ll go to the beach as long as it doesn’t rain).


They introduce an action that has no effect on the action of the main clause, which happens anyway.

These are: sebbene, anche se, nonostante, benché, malgrado, per quanto…

Sto sudando sebbene fuori ci siano solo 3°.

(I’m sweating despite it’s only 3 degrees outside).

Benché non fosse più molto giovane, era agilissimo.

(Although he was not very young, he was very agile).


These conjunctions take the subjunctive, except for “anche se”.

Sto sudando anche se fuori ci sono solo 3°.

Anche se non era più molto giovane, era agilissimo.


They express the way in which the action is carried out or accomplished.

The main ones are: come se, comunque, come, nel modo che…

Parlava come se non gli importasse delle conseguenze.

(He talked like he didn’t care about the consequences).

Si sono comportati nel modo che gli avevo consigliato.

(They behaved like we suggested).

Comunque vada, saremo al tuo fianco.

(Whatever happens, we will be by your side).


They express a limit to what is being said in the main clause.

Among these, we can find: senza che, fuorché, tranne se, eccetto che, per quello che, a meno che, …

Ti aiuterò io, a meno che tu non abbia già un assistente.

(I’ll help you, unless you already have an assistant).

Ci hanno rimproverato senza che ci spiegassero il motivo.

(They scolded us without explaining us why).

Giovanni è guarito, per quello che ne sappiamo.

(Giovanni has recovered, for all we know).


They introduce a second comparison term in relation to what is said in the main clause, such as: come, così… come, di quello che, di quanto, piuttosto che…

Il film era molto più brutto di quanto immaginassi.

(The movie was much worse than I imagined).

Pranzare dai nonni è come tornare indietro a vent’anni fa.

(Having lunch at grandparents’ is like going back 20 years).

Piuttosto che giocare a golf con voi, sono disposta a rimanere a casa tutta la mattina.

(Rather than play golf with you, I’m willing to stay at home all morning).


They introduce the consequence of what is expressed in the main clause. Almost all the time, there is an element in the main clause and then another one which introduces the subordinate clause.

These are: così… che, tanto… che, in modo tale… che.

Francesca era così stanca che si è addormentata sul divano.

(Francesca was so tired that she fell asleep on the couch).

La pubblicità mi ha tanto colpito che ho deciso di comprare il prodotto.

(The advertisement impressed me so much that I decided to buy the product).

We hope that you have found this article useful to learn the most common Italian conjunctions. If you want to learn more about this topic, take a look at our article on Italian concessive conjunctions!

Do not forget to read our amazing book Italiano Colloquiale: Parole ed Espressioni per Tutti i Giorni!

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