I have been dealing with Italian for foreigners for nearly 15 years and can say with certainty that the subjunctive is regarded by everybody, both Italians and foreigners with an obsession, as a coveted grail, as if learning to express oneself in Italian was mainly about that form which is rarely used by Italians themselves, hence, and maybe precisely for that reason, it is desired by foreigners.
The subjunctive seems to me to be a symbol, the impenetrable bastion of a still widely held belief that in order to express oneself properly in a language, it is necessary, first of all, to adhere to its rules. And yet, language often willingly breaks free from rules, not just due to negligence, but by the mere fact of being as alive as the people who speak it and use it to communicate in daily life.
Let me say in advance that I am all for the study of the subjunctive and its correct use. I don’t want to be misunderstood. What I don’t agree with are the motives that often drive people to learn it and to criticize (sometimes even bitterly) those who don’t use it or those who use it incorrectly.
I’d like to shift the attention on the subjunctive from being a lofty goal to being a possibility for expression that helps us, both Italians and foreigners, to articulate our thoughts with more nuances.
In short, I’d like to argue in favour of a more natural use of the language, which has a life of its own and which, precisely for that reason, changes according to the times, the context, the speakers, and the means that they use in order to convey their messages. The communicative power of a message does not necessarily and exclusively lie in its grammatical correctness, but rather in the apt use of words and expressions which colour that language, infusing it with novel and personal meanings. A language is made of nuances, and in order to communicate, it is necessary to convey them, because a sentence can be grammatically perfect but if it doesn’t enable us to express ourselves, it remains something sterile.