Tag Archive | The Present Subjunctive

The Subjunctive in Relative Clauses

The subjunctive is used in a relative clause if the antecedent in the main clause does not exist, is sought but not yet found, or is indefinite.

  • Il n’y a personne qui me comprenne. | There is no one who understands me.
  • Je ne vois pas d’endroit où nous puissions nous asseoir. | I don’t see any place where we can sit down.
  • L’entreprise a besoin de secrétaires qui sachent trois langues. | The firm needs secretaries who know three languages.
  • Je cherche une voiture qui fasse du 100 à l’heure. | I’m looking for a car that does 100mph.
  • Connaissez-vous quelqu’un qui puisse nous aider ? | Do you know someone who can help us?

If the antecedent in the main clause actually exists, the indicative is used in the relative clause.

  • J’ai besoin des secrétaires qui savent trois langues. | I need the secretaries who know three language.
  • J’ai acheté la voiture qui fait du 100 à l’heure. | I bought the car that does 100mph.
  • Voilà quelqu’un qui peut nous aider. | There’s someone who can help us.

Happy learning, and I’ll see you again next Thursday!

A la prochaine…



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…