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How do I know when to use the subjunctive?

The subjunctive mood is a very useful (and impressive!) tense to use when writing and speaking and it enables you to express yourself in many more ways, but it is difficult sometimes to get your head around and remember when it is essential to use it! The main concepts that the subjunctive expresses are doubt, a wish and emotions.

There are certain expressions such as bien que (although); quoique (even though) and pour que (so that); which just need to be learned so that when it comes to using them you know that they must be followed by the subjunctive.

Other set expressions are also followed by the subjunctive which do also just need to be learned, however when using them or if you come across one you can usually determine from the meaning whether it should take the subjunctive. For example " il est possible que" is followed by the subjunctive whereas "il est certain que" is followed by the imperative. This is because "possible" expressed doubt and therefore must take the subjunctive, but "certain" implies certainty and therefore is followed by the imperative. 

The subjunctive is a large and complex part of French grammar to tackle but once you know when and how it must be used then it starts to become less daunting to use! 

Zoe W. GCSE French tutor, A Level French tutor, GCSE German tutor, A ...

12 months ago

Answered by Zoe, an A Level French tutor with MyTutor


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