Italian Concessive Clauses: uses and meanings (anche se, sebbene, nonostante, malgrado, pur)

Concessive clauses represent one of the most difficult topics for those who study italian… How are they used? What’s their meaning? Let’s see if our video-lesson can clarify all your doubts, once and for all.


Meaning and use

All these conjunctions introduce, in Italian, concessive clauses. Beware their use!

Anche se (even if) + indicative

Sebbene / Nonostante / Malgrado (despite / even though /although) + subjunctive

Anche se followed by the indicative tense and sebbene / nonostante / malgrado followed by the subjunctive tense indicate the same thing : a real event which, by the way, has no effect on the action expressed by the other sentence.


  • Continuano a studiare anche se sono stanchi (They keep studying even they are tired)

→ They are tired and this is a real and certain fact. But it doesn’t affect the action of “studying”, because they keep doing that.

  • Continuano a studiare sebbene siano stanchi. (They keep studying although they’re tired)
  • Continuano a studiare nonostante siano stanchi. 
  • Continuano a studiare malgrado siano stanchi. 

→ In these sentences the sense is the same as the previous sentence, the only thing that changes is the way the verb is supported by these conjunctions (subjunctive and not indicative!).

Any trouble with the Italian subjunctive? Don’t miss our lessons about how to form it, when to use it and when NOT to use it!

Do the indicative and subjunctive moods cause you troubles but you have to use necessarily a concessive clause in a conversation? We have a tip for you!

You can use:

nonostante / malgrado + a noun

  • Continuano a studiare nonostante la stanchezza (They keep studying despite the tiredness)
  • Continuano a studiare malgrado la stanchezza 


pur + gerund 

Continuano a studiare pur essendo stanchi


There is a case in which “anche se” is followed by subjunctive, but the meanng is different! 

anche se + subjunctive

It indicates a possible fact, that can be true or false , that can happen or not. But even if it was true or it happened, it wouldn’t affect the action expressed by the other sentence (!! in this case the action will be supported by the conditional tense, because it is possible and not certain).


  • Continuerebbero a studiare anche se fossero stanchi (They would keep studying even if they were tired)

→ It is not sure they’re tired , it’s jut possible they can be! But even if that was true, it wouldn’t affect the action of “studying”, because they would keep doing that anyways.

But it’s not over yet! 

Do you know that “anche se, sebbene, nonostante e malgrado” can be also followed by the conditional tense?

anche se / sebbene / nonostante / malgrado + conditional

They indicate an opinion or a personal desire which, by the way, has no effect on the action expressed in the other sentence  (!! in this case the other action will be supported by  the indicative tense, because it happens despite our wish)

  • Continuano a studiare anche se non vorrebbero farlo. (They continue to study although they are not willing to)
  • Continuano a studiare sebbene non vorrebbero farlo.
  • Continuano a studiare nonostante non vorrebbero farlo.
  • Continuano a studiare malgrado non vorrebbero farlo.

→ Their wish is to not study, but despite this they keep doing that (no effect!)

Remember that if the verb in the main sentence is conjugated  with the past tense, you must keep the past tense even in the subordinate: it’s the so-called consecutio temporum

Let’s see if you’ve mastered the contents of this class. Have a go at completing the exercises!

2 thoughts to “Italian Concessive Clauses: uses and meanings (anche se, sebbene, nonostante, malgrado, pur)”

  1. They keep studying EVEN THOUGH/although they’re tired – you can’t say “despite they are tired” it has to be “despite BEING tired” – proprio come “pur essendo …”

  2. Potete precisare una cosa per favore?

    In questa frase di sotto, è corretto usare l’indicativo o il congiintivo?:
    “Pensano che sia colpevole nonostante che non c’era/ci fosse quando il delitto fu commesso”

    Se si volesse intendere che L’uomo (di cui parliamo) non c’era, ed è un dato di fatto che non c’era, si deve usare ancora il congiuntivo o meglio usare l’indicativo?

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