16.5.3 finché / fin quando (until, as long as) , fintantoché (as long as ) part 1

Four annotations.

1. Finche, as long as / until should not be confused with affinché, in order to
Finché dorme è meglio non fare chiasso.
As long as he sleeps it is better not to make noise.
Affinché studi di più, gli abbiamo promesso di regalargli una bicicletta.
In order to motivate him to learn we promised him a bicycle.
2. The relevance of these conjunctions is very different, in other words, fin quando and fintantochè are very rarely used, in other words, they are completely irrelevant and we are not going to mention them any more. If you make an inquiry with google the results are very clear.
finché 5.500.000 hits
fin quando    450.000 hits
fintantoché      64.000 hits
  3. We are going to talk only about the conjunction finché. Finché means until and as long as. In other words, finché corresponds to two conjunctions in English with a completely different meaning.
a) Until he is here, we do what we want to do.
b) As long as he is here, we do what we want to do.

Obviously this two sentences are very different. In case a) he is not there and as long as this is the case, they do what they want. In case b) he is already there and as long as he is there, they do what they want. The problem is that in Italian there is no conjunction for until. Therefore you find very often finché...no...
Finché ...no...
corresponds to until.

Si guardarono a lungo negli occhi, finché lui non prese la parola.
They looked each in the eyes until he began to speak.
Una donna non ha questo diritto: è costretta a vivere con un marito spesso adultero e magari violento finché lui non la caccia via.
A woman doesn't have this right: She is obliged to live with a man often unfaithful and violent until he chases her away.
Vuoi dire che finché lui non ottiene la residenza non ci possiamo sposare?
Do you want to say that we can't get married until he got his residence permit?

We see that the non looses completely his original value, finché...non means just until. If we want to understand this construction we have to translate with a didactical translation, in other words with a translation that is not correct but reveals the Italian structure. In this case we have to translate with before.

didactically motivated translation
Vuoi dire che finché lui non ottiene la residenza non ci possiamo sposare?
Do you want to say that we can' t get marry before he doesn' t receive his residence permit.

If it is unknown how much time the period lasts, we can use the congiuntivo, but it is not compulsory.
  4. The conjunctions finchè should not be confused with fino. Fino is a preposition and is followed by a concrete instant of time. Finché is a conjunction and introduces a temporal clause.
Fino a domani devo lavorare.
I have to work until tomorrow.
Finché non sa ciò che vuole, non c' è bisogno di chiedergli come possiamo aiutarlo.
As long as he doesn' t know what he want, there is no need to ask him whether we can help him.

Some examples in the following chapters use the congiuntivo. In the case of dopo che we have already seen that the congiuntio passato prossimo can describe an action / event as finished in the future. We will see similar constructions in the following chapters.

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