8.2 Formation of the subjonctif présent


8.2.1 Formation of the subjonctif présent

First the good news:
1) there is no difference between the verbs ending on -er, -ir, -re, -oir, when forming the subjonctif présent. 2) many forms of the subjonctif are identical with the form of the indicatif
3) the subjonctif is almost always used together with que, so that it often helps to know, when to use it.

The subjonctif présent is formed whith the stem of the 3rd person plural of the présent adding the correct ending:

  Examples          
Personal
pronoun
donner
(to give)
finir
(to finish)
voir
(to see)
descendre
(to descend)
Ending
  ils donn-ent ils finiss-ent ils voi-ent ils descend-ent  
  je donn finiss voi descend e
  tu donn finiss voi descend es
  il / elle donn finiss voi descend e
  nous donn finiss voy descend ions
  vous donn finiss voy descend iez
  ils / elles donn finiss voi descend ent

This form is used after verbs of hope, fear, regret etc. to express something irreal. We will come back to the use more in detail a bit later. If you know Spanish, please not that there are some differences, e.g. the subjonctif is used after the verb éspérer (to hope) in French only in negation, in Spanish also in positive phrases.

  Examples
  He does not hope that we would* give him money.
  Il n' espère pas que nous lui donnions de l' argent.
    He fears that you would* descend.
  Il a peur que vous descendiez.
    I doubt that you would* see him.
  Je doute que vous le voyiez.
* Even though the sentences would be fine also without the conditional would, we use it here to express the subjonctif.

There is a number of irregular verbs. Again we recommend to get a verb table from your nearest book shop (or, in case you rather work with the net, get a short cut to www.verbix.com). As usual, the most frequently used verbs are irregular.

  Examples
  être
(to be)
vouloir
(to want)
pouvoir
(can)
faire
(to make)
avoir
(to have)
aller
(to go)
  que je sois veuille puisse fasse aie aille
  que tu sois veuilles puisses fasses aies ailles
  qu' il / elle soit veuille puisse fasse ait aille
  que nous soyons voulions puissions fassions ayons allions
  que vous soyez vouliez puissiez fassiez ayez alliez
  qu' ils / elles soient veuillent puissent fassent aient aillent

  Examples
  I'm afraid that he would be there.
  Je crains qu' il soit là.
    I do not hope that he is capable of doing it.
  Je n' espère pas qu' il soit capable de le faire.
    I'm afraid that he would do something stupid.
  Je crains qu' il fasse des bêtises.





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