This lesson describes “although” and “even if” as “similar” but states that “although” is “more elegant and subtle” than “even if.” This is not quite right. There is a significant difference in meaning. “Although” is usually followed by a concession/affirmation of fact, while “even if” is followed by a hypothetical assumption (without a concession/affirmation of fact).
“Although I stole the hat, I did not deserve the death penalty.” — I am admitting I stole the hat.
“Even if I stole the hat, I did not deserve the death penalty.” There is ambiguity here. I am not necessarily admitting I stole the hat. I am saying that, even assuming I stole the hat, I don’t deserve the death penalty.
It’s unclear to me if there is a similar distinction in meaning in French between bien que and meme si which explains why one form takes indicative and the other subjunctive. I would expect the version that is closer to although and which affirms a fact to take indicative, and the other subjunctive. At least that is how it works in Spanish - “aunque” with indicative is “although,” and “aunque” with subjunctive is “even if.”
I agree that there's a difference in meaning, so that statement in the lesson is a little confusing to me, too. Perhaps the point is that "même si" can also mean "even though", and in that case can substitute for "bien que", but "bien que" would be more elegant and more precise.
In French, "bien que" takes the subjunctive, not because it's a hypothetical, but precisely because it is making a concession. So-called "concessive" clauses (i.e. conceding a fact opposing the main clause) usually take the subjunctive in French. In this grammatical sense, "même si" is also concessive, but since it lacks "que", I guess it can't take the subjunctive. (There must be a better explanation than that.)
I think a similar use of the subjunctive is also possible in Spanish when referring to a fact that is already known by the listener.
Voy a salir aunque llueva mucho. I am going out although it is raining.
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