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Italian Language/translation / use of subjunctive

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Question
Dear Maria,

Would you please translate the following sentence:
“Non sembra che  tu abbia le idee chiare”

I am thinking that this might mean:  “It does not seem that you know your own mind”  or  “It does not seem that you apply yourself”

Would you also please explain why the subjunctive has been used.  Is this because the person talking  is making a "suggestion" ?


Thank you

Sincerely,

Rich

Answer
Dear Rich,

“Non sembra che  tu abbia le idee chiare” translates correctly as “It does not seem that you have clear ideas”, not “It does not seem that you know your own mind”  or  “It does not seem that you apply yourself”.

In Italian we say ”avere le idee chiare” (=to have clear ideas) when we  mean that someone knows perfectly well what he wants and has a clear vision of what he intends to do.

As for the subjunctive, it  has been used  because the person talking  is using the verb “sembrare” (to seem) that in itself  denotes a possibility/ a supposition, not a  real fact  as in “So che sei partito ieri” where we use the indicative because  the person talking  knows  for sure  that someone has left yesterday.

Best regards,
Maria

Italian Language

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Maria

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Italian is my mother tongue and I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning Italian Language.

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Over 25 years teaching experience.

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I received my Ph.D.in Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy).

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