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En bonne forme, 8th Edition

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Selected Grammar Explanations in English
Chapter 16
THE PRESENT SUBJUNCTIVE FORM
The indicative and the subject are mood constructions. The indicative is the real-action
mood; it describes facts. The subjunctive is the mood of wishes, possibilities, and doubts.
In French, you use the subjunctive quite often, especially in dependent clauses. The
principal verb or the conjuction determines if the subjunctive is used in the dependent
clause.
Il faut qu'il vienne.

Je me prpare avant qu'il vienne.

In English, use of the subjunctive is rare.


I wish I were in France.
The students ask that the teacher speak slowly.

There are four subjunctive tenses. In popular language, you use the present and the past
subjunctive. In literary language, you also use the imperfect and past perfect subjunctive
tenses. There is no future subjunctive tense. The present subjunctive indicates the future.
Je doute qu'ils reviennent l'Expo.
I doubt that they will come back to the Fair.

Forms
Regular Subjunctive
The majority of verbs have a regular subjunctive conjugation. You form the subjunctive
with the third person plural of the present tense. Drop the -ent to obtain the root and then
add one of the following endings: -e, -es, -e, -ions, -iez, -ent.
1. Regular Verbs
a. 1st group verbs
regarder

ils regardent

regard-

ils finissent

finiss-

b. 2nd group verbs


finir

c. 3rd group verbs

entendre

ils entendent

entend-

2. Irregular Verbs
a. The majority of irregular verb have an irregular subjunctive conjugation.
b. Irregular verbs ending in -ir, -oir, and -re in the present indicative form have two
roots in the present subjunctive: the root of the third person plural of the present
tense for je, tu, il , ils and the third person of the imperfect for nous and vous.
c. The verbs croire, rire and voir use -yi- or two -i- for nous and vous.
Usage
You will encounter four popular uses of the subjunctive form.
The subjunctive form after certain verbs of will, necessity, feeling or doubt
The subjunctive after certain conjunctions
The subjunctive alone
The subjunctive after a relative pronoun
General Rules
1. Verbs expressing will, preference, necessity, emotion, feeling, doubt, or possibility are
always followed by que and the subjunctive when the principal verb and the
subordinate verb have different subjects.
Odette est triste que son frre ne soit pas prs d'elle.

2. If the subject of the principal verb is the same as the subject of the subordinate verb,
use the infinitive construction.
Odette est triste d'tre loin de son frre.

3. If the principal verb is impersonal, the subject of the subordinate verb must represent
a noun or a precise pronoun. If not, use the infinitive construction.
Il faut qu'Odette crive son frre.
Il faut visiter tous les pavillons.

Subjunctive or Infinitive?
Verbs that express an opinion, a declaration, a certainty, and the verb esprer (to hope)
are followed by the indicative when they are in the affirmative form.
Je pense qu'il va pleuvoir.

If these verbs are in the negative or interrogative forms, however, they express doubt and
therefore can be used with the subjunctive. The indicative is also an option in these cases,
it is merely a difference in the quality of the language. Careful, elegant, or written
language calls for the subjunctive; the indicative is more appropriate for simple, spoken
language.
Je ne pense pas qu'il pleuve. (ou qu'il va pleuvoir)

The Subjunctive Form after Conjunctions


1. Here are the main conjunctions used before the subjunctive form:
condition que
moins que
avant que
bien que
de peur que
jusqu' ce que
pour que
pourvu que
sans que

provided
unless
before
although
for fear that
until
in order that
provided
without

2. For certain conjunctions, the subjunctive is the logical form to use becauce the action
that follows has not yet happened (jusqu' ce que, avant que, pourvu que, pour
que, sans que) or contains an emotion (de peur que).
Nous allons vous expliquer cette rgle jusqu' ce que vous la compreniez.

3. Use the subjunctive form with the conjunctions avant que, pour que, de peur que,
sans que when you have two different subjects in the main and subordinate clauses.
If the subjects of the two clauses represent the same person, use a preposition and an
infinitive.
Je me prpare avant que nous sortions.
I get ready before we go out.
Je me prpare avant de sortir.
I get ready before going out.

THE PAST SUBJUNCTIVE FORM


Forms
The past subjunctive form is regular for all verbs. Take the past tense of the indicative
and add the auxiliary avoir or tre.

Usage
The past subjunctive form indicates that an action happened before the action of the
principal verb even if the principal verb is in the past tense.
Tu es content: je t'ai montr le temple
d'Angkor.

Tu es content que je t'aie montr le


temple d'Angkor.

The Sequence of Tenses


1. In spoken language and in simple written language, you use both the present and past
subjunctive forms.
a. The present subjunctive is used to indicate that the action of the subordinate verb
happened at the same time or after the action of the principal verb, even if the
principal verb is in the past tense.
Je suis content: tu prends des vacances.
tu vas prendre des vacances.
tu prendras des vacances.

Je suis content que tu prennes


des vacances.

b. The past subjunctive form is used to indicate that the action happened before the
action of the principal verb.
2. In written literary language, there are two other tenses: the imperfect subjunctive and
the past-perfect subjunctive (See Temps et constructions rares on your Online
Study Center).