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"Sia" English translation?

I'm a bit confused about the Italian word "sia"--does it have a literal English translation/when do you use it?

July 26, 2016



Sia means "it is", "he is", "she is", "i am", "you are"

It takes the place of sono, è and sei when the subjunctive is used in a subordinate clause.

You will get to these lessons towards the end of the tree but to give you an idea, Italian uses a different form when a sentence has a main clause and a subordinate clause and the subordinate clause is not a statement of fact.

As an example:

Lei è qui - she is here - statement of fact

Penso che lei sia qui - i think that she is here - statement of supposition

Penso - i think - main clause

Che lei sia qui - that she is here - subordinate clause and is not a statement of fact. It is what I think but I may be wrong.

There is also a past tense version - fosse

Lei era qui - she was here

Pensavo che lei fosse qui - I thought that she is/was here


Thanks! So it kind of takes the place of the word "that"? I also read something about it meaning "both"--is it used there as well?


No, it takes the place of

Sono - i am

Sei - you are

È - he/she is

When they are used after "that" and "that" separates the sentence into two separate clauses. It is a form of the verb ESSERE - to be.

It is usually used in the rest of the sentence after starting with the following:

I think that ... I hope that ... I want that ... I believe that ... It is important that ...


Okay, that makes more sense :) Thank you!


sia often comes after the word "che", and che is the word that means "that".


It is also used to form "both" when we want to say "both ... and ..."

"both this and that" - sia questo sia quello

[deactivated user]

    You've got one of the most used words in italian.

    Sia is is the subjunctive of the verb to be (essere), subjunctive is usually used when there is a doubt, a personal opinion, something not certain, an order.

    For example:

    Credo che sia simpatico = i think that's nice

    Penso che non sia una buona idea = i think that's not a good idea

    I want that he be here! = voglio che sia qui!

    Try to think in this way: start to memorize these verbs of opinion - Pensare (to think), credere (to believe), volere (to want), sperare (to hope)...probably the most common and used.

    Then add the "che" (that) + subjunctive verb

    Verb of thought/order/ + che + subjunctive verb.

    If you noticed a lot of italian whens they write in english (it depends of the person ahaha sometimes i still do it, it's a bad habit xDDD) put several times "che" because in many times, subjunctive is a verbal tense really used.

    jgedrim is right, i can confirm what he wrote. It's also used for another kind of sentence, this one : so be it -> così sia.


    Okay, awesome! Thank you!


    Note the example that Feliksia89 gives

    I want that he be here - voglio che lui sia qui.

    It sounds strange in English, right. Although it is normal for us to say: "I believe that he is here" and "I think that he is here", we would rather say: "I want him to be here" and not "I want that he be here."

    In Italian, you cannot do this.

    You can say: "I want to be here" - voglio essere qui

    But you cannot say: "I want him to be here". You have to say: "I want THAT he BE here" - voglio CHE lui SIA qui.

    [deactivated user]

      Ahahah, ignore my awful english, i only wanted to explained how subjunctive worked (in fact i always have a "wait a sec" moment when i see an english sentence where for me is required subjunctive but is not necessary in english xD) but since i always have the doubt...well, at the end i put it ahahahah, poor my stupid italian brain xD.


      No, you are correct in your explanation. English is a strange language and it is a very important distinction between Italian grammar and english grammar.

      Penso che il tuo inglese sia molto buono. Brava! Voglio parlare italiano come tu parli inglese.

      There is a subjunctive in English, used in the same way as Italian, but we use it very seldom. Sia, Siamo, Siate, Siano all use BE as the subjunctive in english.

      "She IS here" - lei È qui

      These use the subjunctive:

      "It is important that she BE here." - è importante che lei SIA qui.

      "I want her to BE here" - voglio che lei SIA qui

      "I wish for her to BE here" - desidero che lei SIA qui

      But these do not:

      I believe that she IS here - credo che lei SIA qui

      I think that she IS here - penso che lei SIA qui

      I hope that she IS here - spero che lei SIA qui

      [deactivated user]

        Ahahah ok, so my problem in reality isn't a problem, is only the verb to be conjugated in the right way, i get it now xD.

        Certo che puoi, tutto è possibile, se ci sono riuscita io con l'inglese puoi benissimo farlo anche tu con l'italiano :D.

        (wait, so my first two sentences are incorrect,right?).


        The more I study italian, the more I think that we got our grammar from Italian, but sometimes, we got it completely wrong.


        They are slightly wrong, but that is probably what we would say in english. C'è una differenza piccola.

        Hai scritto

        Credo che quello sia buono - I think that's nice - invece di - I think that it is nice.

        ( non sono sicuro se si usa "simpatico" solo con la gente o anche le cose? Dimmi per favore.)

        Penso che quello non sia una buona idea - I think that's not a good idea - invece di - i think that it is not a good idea.


        Feliksia89 Your brain is working just fine. It helps us English speakers to have comments from native Italian speakers. This aspect of the language is very difficult for us to grasp, so thank you for taking the time to comment.


        Actually the “be” in "I want that he be here" is the subjunctive (although not often used) in English. So I think it’s a good comparison!

        [deactivated user]

          Yes, some things are quite similar to italian but trust me that italian grammar is a punch in the face compared with the english one xD. There are some things that i still don't get for example the different english futures ( what the?! 1 future in italian, it's perfect, easier to remember ahahahahah) oh well, if i don't count the present tense as future....at the end, one xD.

          But i try to see the thing from your point of view and i cannot blame you when subjunctive and conditional gives you lots of problems (and do we want to talk of "ci, si, mi, vi, li, lo, la, a me ,a te, a voi" blah, blah, blah xD?I don't envy you, because i would have a huge headache xD). You have guts learning italian, i don't envy you xD.


          I see a lot of italians struggle with the future but the difference is really very small.

          I am doing it tomorrow - lo faccio domani - using present for future, same as italian.

          I am going to do it tomorrow - lo farò domani - using "going to" for future

          I'll do it tomorrow - lo farò domani - using " 'll " for future I'll, he'll, she'll, we'll, you'll, they'll

          Questi due sono uguali in inglese. Puoi scegliere come voi ma usiamo I'll molto spesso.

          I will do it tomorrow - lo farò domani - using "will" for future

          Most of the time, we only use WILL when we want to stress that we will do it. It is more like "guarantisco di farlo domani. È una promessa."

          The past future and conditional are the same as italian - there is only one form.

          I will have done it - avrò fatto

          I would have done it - avrei fatto

          I should have done it - avrei dovuto farlo

          I could have done it - avrei potuto farlo

          [deactivated user]

            Ops, that's why i shouldn't see much other people ,sometimes i do these stupid mistakes xD.

            Yes, simpatico can be used also for people :D.

            Penso che quello non sia una buona idea -> like in the other sentece you wrote, "quello" is not necessary because the subject in 99% of cases is implied ( but in case you want to specificy it like -> Paolo mangia la pasta, you are saying that only Paolo is eating pasta) however " quello", sounds a bit weird, that's why is better to say credo che sia giusto, sia buono,sia cattivo etc. because you know that the other person is listening to you, knows already the "object" of the conversation.


            Sorry, I was translating your translation back into italian. I probably did it badly.

            Credo che sia simpatico - i think/believe that it/he/she is nice.

            You wrote: I think that's nice - which is what we say in english but actually means : I think that that (thing) is nice - which if I translate back to italian is something like: credo che quello sia simpatico? Or - credo che questa cosa sia simpatica?

            [deactivated user]

              Even it's a person or an object, it's always implied (like in spanish) credo che (lui/lei esso) sia simpatico/a.

              Anyway, don't worry i make lots of mistakes every minute, you are not the only, we are learning xD.


              Or just - credo che sia simpatico.

              Sorry, now I get your point. It can mean both things in italian.

              [deactivated user]

                Exactly, it can be everything.

                [deactivated user]

                  Everyone's talking about the present subjunctive of essere, but it can also be used to mean this:

                  both ... and ...
                  sia ... sia ...

                  Sia la ragazza sia il ragazzo vogliono la torta al cioccolato.
                  Both the girl and the boy want chocolate cake.

                  Sia Giulia sia Luis eravano andati alla scuola.
                  Both Giulia and Luis had gone to school.


                  The same exists in English but combining the subjunctive of be with or: I like dessert, be it cold or warm. We have all sorts of books, be they novels or non-fiction.

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