Subjunctive in French – Part 1

French Subjunctive Mood:
– Subjunctive in French – Part 1
– Subjunctive in French – Part 2
– Past subjunctive in French

Lesson Part 1
1. What the subjunctive mood is.
2. When to use it.
3. Explanation.
4. How to form it.

1. What the French Subjunctive is

The subjunctive is a mood expressing:
1. A doubt
2. A wish
3. An obligation, a will
4. Subjectivity (things you are the only one to think)

The construction is always after the small word: que
The name Subjunctive (linked under) have a little to do with the modern meaning.

2. When to use it

When a verb expresses one of this point, it is highly likely that it will be followed with the subjunctive mood

J’aimerais que tu viennes: I would like you come
J’aimerais is a wish and viennes is the subjunctive form of venir and the expression is J’aimerais que.

3. Explanation:

– First, be sure that a lot of people in France make mistakes using this mood!
– There are 4 tenses in this mood but two are really used the present tense and the past tense, the other ones nearly disappeared!

A- Subjunctive in English:

It may help to understand the subjunctive in French, even if it is not really known that the subjunctive also exists in English, let’s see these expressions:
•God save the Queen
•God bless America
•It is important that you be here before 10 pm
•I wish I were wrong
As you see the verb “save” has no final “s” and you do not say “blesses”, this is the subjunctive in English!

B- Subjunctive in French:

The Subjunctive in French is very common and needs to be known.

So, we have the subjunctive after QUE

But not all the expressions using QUE are followed with the subjunctive, most of them followed the above rules (doubt, wish…), some are expressions you need to know.
Usually it is the structure: Clause + QUE + Subjunctive or QUE + Subjunctive
Je veux + qu’+ il vienne or qu’+il vienne !
Je veux qu’il vienne: I want he comes
Qu’il vienne: let him come! 
(when there is no first clause, the translation may be different in English), let him come may also be translated in: faites-le venir (or entrer)

4. How to form it

Regular verbs:

You use the “they” form of the present tense of the indicative mood in French,
for example with the verb “aimer” (to like, to love), the they form is:
Ils or Elles aiment.
You drop the end “ent” and add the subjunctive endings: -e, -es, -e, -ions, -iez, -ent
Que j’aime
Que tu aimes
Qu’il or qu’elle aime
Que nous aimions
Que vous aimiez
Qu’ils or qu’elles aiment

Que j’aime ces fleurs: how I love these flowers.
Que nous nous aimions les uns les autres est nécessaire: We must love each other.

As you can see some forms look like the present tense, it is like that with verbs which infinitive ends in -er, with the verb “finir” (to finish) it is different:

They finish: Ils finissent, you drop the end and you get:

Que je finisse
Que tu finisses
Qu’il finisse
Que nous finissions
Que vous finissiez
Qu’ils finissent

Irregular verbs:

Avoir: to have
Que j’aie
Que tu aies
Qu’il ait
Que nous ayons
Que vous ayez
Qu’ils aient
Etre: to be
Que je sois
Que tu sois
Qu’il soit
Que nous soyons
Que vous soyez
Qu’ils soient
Aller : to go
Que j’aille
Que tu ailles
Qu’il aille
Que nous allions
Que vous alliez
Qu’ils aillent
Faire : to do, to make
Que je fasse
Que tu fasses
Qu’il fasse
Que nous fassions
Que vous fassiez
Qu’ils fassent
Pouvoir : can
Que je puisse
Que tu puisses
Qu’il puisse
Que nous puissions
Que vous puissiez
Qu’ils puissent
Vouloir : to want
Que je veuille
Que tu veuilles
Qu’il veuille
Que nous voulions
Que vous vouliez
Qu’ils veuillent
Savoir : to know
Que je sache
Que tu saches
Qu’il sache
Que nous sachions
Que vous sachiez
Qu’ils sachent
Voir : to see
Que je voie
Que tu voies
Qu’il voie
Que nous voyions
Que vous voyiez
Qu’ils voient

If you have a doubt you can go to the French home page, you will find a conjugator.

Next Lesson: Subjunctive Part 2

French Subjunctive Quiz

French subjunctive picture:

Pascal Dherve

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