Non lo sapevo che lavorava qui.

Is this an error? I would have chosen “lavorassi” because it is a secondary clause introduced by “che”. Does an Italian speaker have a choice between imperfect and subjunctive imperfect in a sentence like this? Does one choice have a different meaning from the other?

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I think you can look at this way: You were not disputing the fact that somebody was working here, you were only unaware of it.


Hi Hab638. Sì sì, “lavorassi” would seem to work well here. It will be interesting to hear from un madrelingua no? I rather like the congiuntivo though I tend to overuse it.

A dopo…

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Ciao morbrorper. An interesting way of looking at it. The wonders of all the Italian tenses never fail to intrigue. So I decided to sing a series of Subjunctive Pluperfect verbs to the tune of “Suzanne”. Works a treat, easy chords and so much easier to recall. (Tacere, fuggire, portare etc). Passato Remoto involved a slightly less exciting tune;-)


I was also sure that I’d read somewhere that it only applied in case of an uncertainty, like “penso che”. Though I can’t easily locate the original more authoritative source, I have found some others that state the same:

Source: 1

Learning the uses

The subjunctive is used in relative or dependent clauses that are introduced by the word che . They express conditions of subjectivity and uncertainty, as opposed to conditions of certainty and fact.

Source: 2


Subjunctive is the grammar mode of uncertainty, in that it expresses opinions, doubts, will, expectation, desires, emotions, impersonal expressions, whereas Indicative is a mode expressing certainty.

Also on Tatoeba, there are the variations for the different persons knowing or not knowing that he worked here, but none for the congiuntivo. Furthermore, it seems “he” is a well known person to many of us here

Lo sapevi che Tom ha lavorato qui? - Italian example sentence - Tatoeba

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