Tag Archive | French Subjunctive

Uses of the Subjunctive in Adverb Clauses

An adverb is a subordinate clause that modifies a verb much as an adverb does. Adverbial clauses are introduced by adverbial conjunctions that express time, cause, means, purpose, or consequences such as whenhowbecausein order thatprovided thatwhile, etc.

Certain French adverbial conjunctions are always followed by the subjunctive.

  • à condition que – on the condition that, provided that
  • à moins que – unless
  • afin que – so that, in order that (formal)
  • avant que – before
  • bien que/quoique – although, even though
  • de crainte que – for fear that
  • en attendant que – until
  • encore que – although
  • jusqu’à ce que – until
  • malgré que – in spite of the fact that, although
  • pour que – so that, in order that
  • pourvu que – provided that, as long as
  • sans que – without

Ce n’est pas la peine de nous réunir à moins que tout le monde lise les articles du journal électronique.

It doesn’t pay for us to have a meeting unless everyone reads the articles online.

Discutions le projet avant que le conseiller revienne.

Let’s discuss the project before the consultant returns.

Je vais télécharger ce logiciel bien qu’il soit un peu vieux.

I’m going to download this software even though it’s a bit old.

Pour que vous puissiez me contacter je vous donnerai l’adresse de mon compte email.

So that you can contact me, I’ll give you my email address.

Je vais allumer mon ordinateur pour que vous consultiez le tableur.

I’m going to turn on my computer in order for you to consult the spreadsheet.

Je te dirai tout ce qui m’est arrivé pourvu que tu ne racontes ça à personne.

I’ll tell you what happened to me as long as you don’t tell anyone.

Ton ordinateur ne va pas fonctionner sans que vous y installiez ce nouveau système d’exploitation.

Your computer won’t work without you installing this new operating system.

If the subjects of both clauses are the same, the subordinate clause is usually replaced by an infinitive.

Je ne peux pas commencer mon travail sans déboguer ce programme.

I can’t begin my work without debugging this program.

Qu’est-ce que je dois faire pour télécharger la base de données ?

What do I have to do to download the database?

Ne quittez pas votre ordinateur avant d’effacer tous ce fichiers.

Don’t leave your computer without deleting all those files.

Tu ne pourras pas devenir consultant à moins d’avoir un bon ordinateur portatif.

You won’t be able to become a consultant unless you have a good laptop.

I hope everyone is having a fantastic week!

Merci à vous !



The Past Subjunctive

Continuing on from last week’s post on the Subjunctive, we’ll be going over the past subjunctive.

The past subjunctive in French is the subjunctive of the passé composé. It consists of the subjunctive of the auxiliary verb (avoir or être) plus the past participle. The same rules of agreement apply as in the passé composé.

parler, finir, vendre

  • que j’aie parlé, fini, vendu
  • que tu aies, fini, vendu
  • qu’il/elle/on ait parlé, fini, vendu
  • que nous ayons parlé, fini, vendu
  • que vous ayez parlé, fini, vendu
  • qu’ils/elles aient parlé, fini, vendu


  • que je sois allé(e)
  • que tu sois allé(e)
  • qu’il soit allé
  • qu’elle soit allée
  • qu’on soit allé(s/es)
  • que nous soyons allé(e)s
  • que vous soyez allé(e)(s)
  • qu’ils soient allés
  • qu’elles soient allées

The past subjunctive is used in the same types of subordinate clauses as the present subjunctive. It is used to indicate that the action of the subordinate clause happened before the action of the main clause.

J’ai peur qu’il parte. | I’m afraid he’ll leave.

J’ai peur qu’il soit parti. | I’m afraid he left.

Il est triste que tu ne puisses pas aller. | It’s sad that you can’t go.

Il est triste que tu n’aies pas pu. | It’s sad that you couldn’t go.

Je ne crois pas qu’ils viennent. | I don’t think they’ll come.

Je ne crois pas qu’ils soient venus. | I don’t think they came.

Nous doutons que l’équipe perde. | We doubt that the team will lose.

Nous doutons que l’équipe ait perdu. | We doubt that the team has lost.

Elle est contente que tu comprennes. | She’s happy that you understand.

Elles est contente que tu aies compris. | She’s happy that you understood.

There will be a couple more posts on this subject coming up in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned for that. Also, I’m taking requests for posts! I hope everyone’s having a great week!

Merci à vous !


The Subjunctive in Adjective Clauses

There is even more to the subjunctive than we have already tapped into. I’ve discussed this not too long ago here, here, and here.

An adjective clause is a subordinate clause that describes a noun much as an adjective does. Adjective clauses are also called relative clauses.

Most adjective clauses appear in the indicative:

Il a un travail qui lui plait. | He has a job that he likes.

Nous avons un bureau qui est confortable. | We have an office that’s comfortable.

Je me sers d’un ordinateur qui a beaucoup de mémoire. | I use a computer that has a lot of memory.

Il y a des entreprises ici qui font du commerce avec le Mexique. | There are firms here that trade with Mexico.

However, if the noun of the main clause in not identified or is negated, then the verb of the adjective clause appears in the subjunctive:

Il veut un travail qui lui plaise. | He wants a job that he will like.

On a besoin d’un bureau qui soit confortable. | We need an office that’s comfortable.

Je cherche un ordinateur qui ait beaucoup de mémoire. | I’m looking for a computer that has a lot of memory.

Il n’y a pas d’enterprises ici qui fassent du commerce avec le Mexique. | There are no firms here that trade with Mexico.

The subjunctive is therefore used after il n’y a rien qui/que, il n’y a personne qui/que, and il n’y a aucun/aucune X qui/que:

Il n’y a rien qui me plaise. | There’s nothing that appeals to me.

Il n’y a personne ici qui sache programmer. | There’s no one here who knows how to program.

Il n’y a aucune banque qui soit ouverte. | There’s no bank that’s open.

The indicative is used when there is no negative:

Il y a quelque chose qui me plaît. | There’s something that appeals to me.

Il y a quelqu’un ici qui sait programmer. | There’s someone here who knows how to program.

Il y a une banque qui est ouverte. | There’s a bank that’s open.

There’s even more on this subject, so be sure to come back next week for more! Have a great week, everyone!

A bientôt !


Uses of the Subjunctive

Continuing on with the subjunctive subject, we’ll go over the uses of the subjunctive this week. The present subjunctive is used in subordinate clauses appearing after main clauses that imply that someone wants someone to do something or that someone wants something to happen that is not yet part of reality or that person’s experience.

Verbs of wanting or ordering someone to do something include vouloirdésirersouhaitervouloir bien (to be willing), commanderordonner (to order), and exiger (to demand).

The present subjunctive can follow a verb in any tense in the main clause.

Elle ne veut pas qu’il revienne. | She doesn’t want him to come back.

Nous souhaitons que vous trouviez un poste. | We hope that you will find a job.

Je veux bien que tu fasses sa connaissance. | I’d like for you to meet him.

J’ai ordonné que vous restiez. | I ordered you to remain.

Le prof a exigé que nous sachions tout. |The professor demanded that we know everything.

Verbs permitting, forbidding, and preventing include permettreautoriserdéfendreinterdire (to prohibit/forbid), éviter (to avoid), and empêcher (to avoid/prevent).

Je ne permettrai pas que vous me parliez comme ça. | I won’t allow you to speak to me like that.

Personne n’a autorisé que vous sortiez. | No one has authorised you to go out.

Je défends que tu me répondes sur ce ton. | I forbid you to answer me like that.

Il empêche que nous fassions notre travail. | He’s keeping us from doing our work.

Verbs of asking an suggesting include diredemandersuggérerproposer, and recommander.

Je dis qu’il vienne. | I’m telling him to come.

Il a demandé que tout le monde soit présent. | He asked that everyone be present.

Je suggère qu’ils y aillent. | I suggest that they go there.

Il propose que nous travaillions ensemble. | He suggests that we work together.

Vous recommandez que je prenne l’avion ? | Do you recommend that I take the plane?

Verbs that try to get someone to do something by expressing likes, preferences, or waiting include aimer (to want), aimer mieux (to prefer), préférer (to prefer), accepter (to agree), admettre (to allow), and attendre (to wait for).

J’aimerais que vous m’aidiez. | I’d like for you to help me.

J’aimerais mieux qu’elle s’en aille. | I’d prefer for her to go away.

Personne n’acceptera que tu partes. | No one will agree to your leaving.

Sa mère n’admettre pas qu’elle mette cette robe. | Her mother won’t allow her to wear that dress.

Nous attendons que vous soyez prêt. | We’re waiting for you to be ready.

This wraps up the subjunctive. Let me know if there’s something in particular you would like me to go over in a future post. Have a great week, everyone!

A bientôt !


The Subjunctive in Noun Clauses

A noun clause is a subordinate clause that functions as a noun, that is, it can serve as either the subject or the object of a verb. Noun clauses are introduced in French by the conjunction que.

The following examples have dependent noun clauses in the indicative. They show events perceived as part of reality because they are the objects of verbs such as savoirpenserentendre (dire), and voir.

Jesais que Jérôme habite ce quartier. | I know that Jérôme lives in this neighbourhood.

Je pense que la réunion est en haut. | I think that the meeting is upstairs.

On a entendu dire que l’entreprise a des problèmes. | We have heard that the firm has problems.

Je vois que les résultats sont bons. | I see that the results are good.

Note that in the above examples, the subordinate clauses beginning with que are the direct objects of the verbs. They all answer the question “Qu’est-ce que?

  • Qu’est-ce que tu sais ? → Je sais que Jérôme habite ce quartier.
  • Qu’est-ce que tu penses ? → Je pense que la réunion est en haut.
  • Qu’est-ce que vous avez entendu dire ? → On a entendu dire que l’entreprise a des problèmes.
  • Qu’est-ce que tu vois ?  → Je vois que les résultats sont bons.

Next week I will go over the uses of the subjunctive, so stay tuned for that! Have a great week, everyone!

A bientôt !


The Subjunctive : The Present Subjunctive

The Subjunctive is a mood used largely in subordinate clauses – clauses that do not stand alone but that are part of a larger sentence. The subjunctive is used after main clauses that express volition – the imposition of will to get someone else to do something; emotion – feelings, a personal reaction to an event or condition; and doubt – uncertainty, denial, or negation of facts and opinions.

Forming the Present Subjunctive

All French verbs, except for être, have the same endings in the present subjunctive. The stem of the present subjunctive for most verbs is the nous form of the present tense without the -ions ending. The following examples of subjunctive forms will be shown after il faut que (one must, it is necessary to/that):

parler (1st person plural present parlons, stem parl-) to speak

Il faut que je parle                  Il faut que nous parlions

Il faut que tu parles                Il faut que vous parliez

Il faut qu’il/elle/on parle          Il faut qu’ils/elles parlent

finir (1st person plural present finissons, stem finiss-) to finish

Il faut que je finisse                Il faut que nous finissions

Il faut que tu finisses             Il faut que vous finissiez

Il faut qu’il/elle/on finisse       Il faut qu’ils/elles finissent

vendre (1st person plural present vendons, stem vend-) to sell

Il faut que je vende                 Il faut que nous vendions

Il faut que tu vendes               Il faut que vous vendiez

Il faut qu’il/elle/on vende         Il faut qu’ils/elles vendent

In the subjunctive of -ir and -re verbs, the final consonant of the stem is sounded in the singular as well as the plural. The presence of that final consonant is the signal of the subjunctive in speech:

  • je finis vs. je finisse
  • je vends vs. je vende

Next week I will continue on this subject of the subjunctive. There is a lot to go over. I hope everyone is having a wonderful week!

A la prochaine…