Concessive Clauses in the Subjunctive

by Karen Conn

General discussion

Concessive clauses are one of the seven adverbial uses of the subjunctive mood in dependent clauses.  As the term "dependent clauses" implies, this type of clause cannot stand alone, as alone it would only be an incomplete sentence.  Therefore, a concessive clause must be part of a complex sentence with an independent clause.  This does not mean that dependent clauses are simple and basic; rather, as Allen and Greenough note, a subordinate clause may itself be modified by another subordinate clause.

How to identify a concessive clause:

1)  Of course, the verb in such a clause must be in the subjunctive.
2)  There are certain words which introduce this type of clause (as listed in Gildersleeve and Lodge): ***it should be noted that these words do not always introduce concessive clauses, but concessive clauses often contain these***

How to translate a concessive clause:

Usually, concessive clauses are translated by "although," "and yet," "however," "though." Often, the independent clause in this type of compound sentence contains the word, or idea, of tamen (meaning nevertheless).


Quamvis me risisset, iratus non fiebam.
 Although he had laughed at me, (nevertheless) I did not become angry.

Quamquam eos videramus, tamen loqui noluimus.
 Although we had seen them, nevertheless we did not want to speak.

Cum in Italia simus, Romam tamen non ibimus.
 Although we are in Italy, nevertheless we shall not go to Rome.

Intricacies of the use of the concessive clause in the subjunctive:

In later Latin, the subjunctive is used when qui is used as the equivalent to cum is in the concessive sense.

Works used:
Allen and Greenough
Gildersleeve and Lodge
Moreland and Fleischer, Latin: an intensive course. Berkeley, Los
Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1977.