Espérer que + subjunctive, yes or no?

Espérer que + subjunctive, yes or no?

In grammar books and your teacher may have told you that “espérer que” in French is always followed by the indicative or conditional mood:

A. Affirmative Sentences

  1. j’espère que tu viendras (indicative mood future tense): I hope you will come
  2. j’espèrais qu’il viendrait (conditional mood): I hoped he would come

B. Negative form “ne pas espérer que” + subjunctive:

  1. J’espère qu’il ne vienne pas: I hope he won’t come

C. Finally questions can use indicative or subjunctive:

  1. Espères-tu qu’il viendra? or espères-tu qu’il vienne? are both correct.


 However, we can use espérer que + subjunctive in a statement if the meaning of espérer is to hope with a future meaning, to wish.
When “espérer” means to expect we use the indicative:

I expect him to come: J’espère qu’il viendra (indicative) or je m’attends à ce qu’il vienne

I expect he will be better soon: j’espère qu’il ira mieux bientôt

I hope he will be better soon: j’espère qu’il aille (subjunctive) mieux bientôt. (here you wish)

So: yes it is possible to have Espérer que + subjunctive in French

Moreover if you google this expression, you will find a lot of:

1. j’espère que ça lui plaise (subjunctive) (I hope he will like it)
2. Espérons que ça lui plaise (subjunctive) (let’s hope he will like it)

This explanation follows Le Bon Usage de la Grammaire française/ Grevisse page 1453:

“Espérer que est suivi, normalement, de l’indic. Cependant on trouve le subj., le verbe se rapprochant alors des verbes comme souhaiter ou des verbes de sentiment.” The explanation is followed by a list of French Authors who use the subjunctive after “espérer que”: Camus, Bernanos, Clavel, Giraudoux.

Pascal Dherve

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Pascal Dherve

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