8.2.2 Formation of the subjonctif imparfait

The subjonctif imparfait is - in opposite to its other Roman brothers in other languages - close to extinction. It is only used in written language. Usually it is substituted by the subjonctif présent or by the subjonctif du passé composé. This means it is enough to know that it exists and that you recognize it, when reading sublime literature.

Forming the subjonctif imparfait is a bit tricky, similar to the passé simple. There is a pattern for verbs ending in -er and -ir. And then, we have two types of pattern for verbs ending in -re and -oir. It seems that the forms are even too complicated for the French, so that they do not use it anymore. And soon, we will only read in old books about it.

The formation of the subjonctif imparfait  
  verbs in -er / -ir verbs in -oir verbs in -re
parler
(to speak)
finir
(to finish)
recevoir
(to receive)
voir
(to see)
descendre
(to descend)
boire
(to drink)
type 1 type 2 type 1 type 2
que je parlasse finisse reçusse visse descendisse busse
  que tu parlasses finisses reçusses visses descendisses busses
  qu' il / elle parlât finît reçût vît descendît bût
  que nous parlassions finissions reçussions vissions descendissions bussions
  que vous parlassiez finissiez reçussiez vîssiez descendissiez bussiez
  qu' ils / elles parlassent finissent reçussent vissent descendissent bussent

The rule is to take the infinitive stem and add the ending accordingly. However, there are many irregular verbs as we have noticed already with the passé simple. Again we refer to the verb tables in printed or electronical form (e.g. www.verbix.com). Here just two important examples:

  Examples  
    être avoir
     
  que je fusse eusse
  que tu fusses eusses
  qu' il / elle fût eût
  que nous fussions eussions
  que vous fussiez eussiez
  qu' ils / elles fussent eussent

The subjonctif imparfait is only used in written form:

  Example  
Je craignais qu' il fût trop tard.
  I was afraid that he would come too late.  

In everyday life one would say:

  Example  
Je craignais qu' il soit trop tard.
  I was afraid that it is too late.  

The subjonctif imparfait is - in opposite to its other Roman brothers in other languages - close to extinction. It is only used in written language. Usually it is substituted by the subjonctif présent or by the subjonctif du passé composé. This means it is enough to know that it exists and that you recognize it, when reading sublime literature.

Forming the subjonctif imparfait is a bit tricky, similar to the passé simple. There is a pattern for verbs ending in -er and -ir. And then, we have two types of pattern for verbs ending in -re and -oir. It seems that the forms are even too complicated for the French, so that they do not use it anymore. And soon, we will only read in old books about it.

The formation of the subjonctif imparfait  
  verbs in -er / -ir verbs in -oir verbs in -re
parler
(to speak)
finir
(to finish)
recevoir
(to receive)
voir
(to see)
descendre
(to descend)
boire
(to drink)
type 1 type 2 type 1 type 2
que je parlasse finisse reçusse visse descendisse busse
  que tu parlasses finisses reçusses visses descendisses busses
  qu' il / elle parlât finît reçût vît descendît bût
  que nous parlassions finissions reçussions vissions descendissions bussions
  que vous parlassiez finissiez reçussiez vîssiez descendissiez bussiez
  qu' ils / elles parlassent finissent reçussent vissent descendissent bussent

The rule is to take the infinitive stem and add the ending accordingly. However, there are many irregular verbs as we have noticed already with the passé simple. Again we refer to the verb tables in printed or electronical form (e.g. www.verbix.com). Here just two important examples:

  Examples  
    être avoir
     
  que je fusse eusse
  que tu fusses eusses
  qu' il / elle fût eût
  que nous fussions eussions
  que vous fussiez eussiez
  qu' ils / elles fussent eussent

The subjonctif imparfait is only used in written form:

  Example  
Je craignais qu' il fût trop tard.
  I was afraid that he would come too late.  

In everyday life one would say:

  Example  
Je craignais qu' il soit trop tard.
  I was afraid that it is too late.  






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