È morta prima che arrivassi qui

Why is ‘arrivassi’ in congiuntivo imperfetto? It’s not an opinion… It sounds like, explaining something that happened. Why not passato prossimo? When I put it in Google Translate, it says the same thing. I’m missing a rule for congiuntivo that explains this. Refresh ny memory?


Just consider it a rule to remember, that the term prima che always takes the subjunctive.

Here is a page from Treccani that mentions this in the difference between prima che and prima di, where it states for prima che -

Di regola, la proposizione dipendente introdotta da prima che ha il verbo al congiuntivo

Here is the page from Accademia della Crusca that discusses the congiuntivo and at one point it lists the following set phrases/words etc. that always take the congiuntivo -

Il congiuntivo si usa:

  1. con alcune congiunzioni subordinanti, quali affinché, benché, sebbene, quantunque, a meno che, nel caso che, qualora, prima che, senza che ;
  2. con aggettivi o pronomi indefiniti (qualunque, chiunque, qualsiasi, ovunque, dovunque );
  3. con espressioni impersonali, come è necessario che, è probabile che, è bene che ;
  4. in formule ormai fissate nell’uso (vada come vada; costi quel che costi ).

Then, as you say, there are all the aspects of opinions, doubts, hopes etc. to add in to places where you need to use the congiuntivo.

It’s a wonder that in subordinate clauses we ever get to use the indicativo :rofl:


I like simple rules like this one, not having to perform a complicated analysis of the context, in real time as I speak.


Thank you for *prima che. I am so used to prima di that I had overlooked the rule for *prima che. Grazie di nuovo.


It’s good you brought that up, as prima di arrivare could not be used here; it would mean “She died before arriving here”.


Okay, interesting. The subjunctive is triggered by the phrase ‘prima che’.

So - if I am understanding this correctly, “È morta prima che arrivassi qui” means “she died before I arrived here” while “È morta prima di arrivare qui” would mean “she died before she arrived here”.

That’s tough. I won’t have that internalized for a while. I already understand that if you use the infinitive like this, it relates to the subject, but yeah, sometimes the congiuntivo sneaks up on you there when you switch stuff around.

Thanks for the help.