Italian Temporal Conjunctions: FINCHÉ, FIN QUANDO, FINO A QUANDO, FINO A CHE…

In this lesson we go back to talk about grammar, more precisely about very delicate subject that creates many problems, both to foreigners and Italians, that is, the use of conjunctions “finché”, “fin quando”, “fino a quando”, “fino a che”, “fintantoché” and “fino a”.

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Finché vs Fin quando vs Fino a quando vs Fino a che vs Fintantoché vs Fino a

The fact that these conjunctions have a very similar meaning is often a source of confusion for many people, but there is nothing to fear: all the answers you need are coming right away!

Let’s start immediately with:

FINCHE’ (UNTIL) 

“Finché” is really a tricky conjunction, in fact it can have two apparently similar meanings, which are actually very different.

The first meaning it can take is:

1 – Fino al momento in cui (Up to the time when)

While the second is:

2 – Per tutto il tempo che (For as long as)

When we use “finché” with the first meaning, the use of the negative form NOT, immediately after, is optional and has no relevance to the meaning of the sentence, which always remains the same.

Here are some examples to clarify this concept:

  • Ho studiato finché mi sono addormentata (I studied until I fell asleep.)
  • Ho studiato finché non mi sono addormentata (I studied until I fell asleep.)

These two sentences have the exact same meaning, in fact both mean that I studied until a certain moment and then the action stopped, that is, when I fell asleep.

However, when we use “finché” with the second meaning, “per tutto il tempo che”, the use of the negative form can drastically change the meaning of the sentence.

Let’s see a couple of examples:

  • Sono stata felice finché ho abitato a Bucarest (I was happy as long as I lived in Bucharest)
  • Sono stata felice finché non ho abitato a Bucarest (I was happy until I lived in Bucharest)

The difference is very subtle, but super important!

In fact, the first sentence means that I was happy when I lived in Bucharest, that is, for as long as I lived in Bucharest. While the second sentence indicates the exact opposite, that for as long as I did not live in Bucharest I was happy, however as soon as I went there, I stopped being happy.

Let’s now move on to:

FIN QUANDO (AS LONG AS)

“Fin quando” is very simple to use. Indeed, we could almost say that it is a synonym for “finché”.

So, here too we will have the two meanings we talked about earlier and the same rules of use!

Examples:

1 – Fino al momento in cui:

  • Ho studiato finché mi sono addormentata = Ho studiato fin quando mi sono addormentata.
  • Ho studiato finché non mi sono addormentata = Ho studiato fin quando non mi sono addormentata.

2 – Per tutto il tempo che:

  • Sono stata felice finché ho abitato a Bucarest = Sono stata felice fin quando ho abitato a Bucarest.
  • Sono stata felice finché non ho abitato a Bucarest = Sono stata felice fin quando non ho abitato a Bucarest.

Even the conjunctions”FINO A QUANDO”, “FINO A CHE ” and “FINTANTOCHÉ’” (the latter can also be written in two words and without an accent: “FINTANTO CHE“)  can be used in the same way and have the same meanings as “finché” and “fin quando”.

The same cannot be said for

FINO A (UP UNTIL/UP TO/UNTIL/TILL)

In fact, “fino a” is always followed by a noun or an adverb and indicates the time or place where something ends.

Let’s see some examples:

  • Sono stato male fino a ieri (I was sick until yesterday)
  • Ti accompagno fino al cancello (I’m going to walk you up to the gate)
  • Ti lascio dormire fino alle 9 (I’m going to let you sleep till nine)
  • Ho nuotato fino alla boa (I swam up to the buoy)

I want to let you know one last trick!

If you want to turn “fino a” into a synonym for “finché”, “fin quando”, “fino a quando”, “fino a che” and “fintantoché”, you just need to add “momento in cui” or “momento nel quale”.

For example:

  • Sono stata felice fino al momento in cui ho vissuto a Bucarest= Sono stata felice finché ho vissuto a Bucarest.

Precisely because it is important to know everything, I recommend you to watch another video lesson, namely the one on the 14 most used Italian locutions and adverbs!

If you want to stay away from grammar, learn the most common Italian expressions!

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