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Italian Language/present subjunctive / use of "finalmente"

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Question
Dear Maria,

Would you please tell me if I was correct to use the present subjunctive in the following sentence:
“Penso che io capisca finalmente l’uso del pronome relativo – la qual cosa.”

I was trying to write the following:
“I think that I finally understand the use of the relative pronoun  – la qual cosa”

Would you also please tell me if I was correct to have used “finalmente” to express “finally” in this sentence.   I was wondering if I would have been equally correct, or maybe more correct,  to have used “alla fine” as in the following:

Penso che io capisca alla fine l’uso del pronome relativo – la qual cosa.
(I think that I finally understand the use of the relative pronoun n – la qual cosa)

Thank you very much.

Very Sincerely,

Rich

Answer
Dear Rich,

in the sentence “Penso che io capisca finalmente l’uso del pronome relativo – la qual cosa”  you  should have used the past subjunctive instead of  the present subjunctive and then you should have said “Penso che io abbia finalmente  capito  l’uso del pronome relativo -la qual cosa-”(“I think that I finally understand the use of the relative pronoun  – la qual cosa”).

In Italian we use in fact the “congiuntivo passato” (i.e. “abbia capito”) because the action of “capire” in “io abbia capito” comes before the action of “pensare”, i.e. “Penso” in the main clause.

This because in Italian we must follow the sequence of tenses, according to the action of a verb, so that, if the action of a verb in a  subordinate clause is anterior to the verb of the main clause, the tense in the subordinate clause must be a past tense.


As for the adverb “finalmente” meaning “finally”, it is correct and can be put either before “capito” or after it, and then you can say either  “Penso che io abbia finalmente  capito…” or “Penso che io abbia  capito finalmente…”.

Lastly, with regard to “alla fine”, you could say “Penso che alla fine  io abbia  capito…”, but it is better to use “finalmente”.

Hope this is clear enough.

Best regards,

Maria
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P.S. Please note that the SEQUENCE OF TENSES (known in Latin as “consecutio temporum”) is a set of grammatical rules  which govern the agreement between the tenses of verbs in related clauses or sentences.

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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