Purché is a conjunction that introduces a conditional clause, much like the expressions as long as or provided that in English. It is the combination of pure, in the archaic sense of ‘only’, and che (that).
The verb that follows purché is normally in the subjunctive mood, as you can see from the following example phrases:
Ti lascio venire con noi purché tu non mi metta in imbarazzo!
I’ll let you hang out with us as long as you don’t embarrass me!
Potete giocare dentro purché non facciate troppo rumore.
You can play inside as long as you don’t make too much noise.
Purché can also be used in elliptical phrases, such as in the following example.
Sono ammessi anche i cani, purché tenuti al guinzaglio.
Dogs are also allowed, provided that they are on a leash.
Occasionally you may encounter purché in exclamations, in which case it is close in meaning to Let’s hope…! or If only…! in English.
Purché sia vero!
Let’s hope it’s true!
If only it were true!
Some synonyms for purché in Italian include:
- ammesso che (formal)
- a condizione che (formal)
- sempre che (informal)
- basta che (informal)
- a patto che (formal)
- solo se (informal)
Finally, the proverbial saying Any publicity is good publicity can be translated as Nel bene o nel male, purché se ne parli in Italian, which literally means In the good or in the evil, as long as it is talked about.
Another similar phrase is Parlarne bene o parlarne male non importa, purché se ne parli, which literally translates as It doesn’t matter if it is talked about positively or negatively, as long as it is talked about.
The latter is one of the (non-literal) translations of Oscar Wilde’s famous quote from The Picture of Dorian Gray: There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.