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:

(to give)
(to finish)
(to see)
(to descend)
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.

  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.


(to be)
(to want)
que je sois veuille puisse
que tu sois veuilles puisses
qu' il / elle soit veuille puisse
que nous soyons voulions puissions
que vous soyez vouliez puissiez
qu' ils / elles soient veuillent puissent

(to make)
(to have)
(to go)
que je fasse aie aille
que tu fasses aies ailles
qu' il / elle fasse ait aille
que nous fassions ayons allions
que vous fassiez ayez alliez
qu' ils / elles fassent aient aillent

  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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