How do I form the present subjective in French?

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French Present Subjunctive

 

First thing to know – the subjunctive is not a tense but a mood.  So if you’re getting a bit moody struggling through the subjunctive, keep reading…

 

Regular verbs

 

The present tense subjunctive is formed by conjugating –ER, -IR, and –RE verbs into the present third person plural (‘they’ or ils), removing the ‘ent’ ending and then adding the endings (-e, -es, -e, -ions, -iez, -ent) to the stem.

 

·      For example:

To say “it is necessary that the government understand the importance of secondary education” you take the infinitive of the verb ‘understand’ (comprendre), conjugate it (compredent), make it into a subjunctive stem (comprend-) and then add the first person singular ending, ‘e’.

 

So…

Il est necessaire que* le gouvernement comprende l’importance de l’education scholaire. 

*Remember – if you’re stuck on when to the use the subjunctive, it is always placed after ‘que’.

 

·      Another example:

 

It is important that the girls finish their homework tomorrow.

Il est important que les filles finissent leurs devoirs demain. 

 

Nasty Irregulars

 

Of course, life is never that simple.  You’ve got to tackle the irregular verbs too, especially as there are many commonly used ones in the subjunctive.  The most important ones are être, avoir, faire, and aller.  Although there is a slight pattern in the subjunctive endings, as with all irregulars you just have to learn them, as the stems look quite different from the original infinitive.

 

Être: je sois, tu sois, il soit, nous soyons, vous soyez, ils soient.

Avoir: j’aie, tu aies, il ait, nous ayons, vous ayez, ils aient.

Faire: je fasse, tu fasses, il fasse, nous fassions, vous fassiez, ils fassent.

Aller: j’aille, tu ailles, il aille, nous allions, vous allies, ils aillent. 

Florianne H. GCSE English Literature tutor, GCSE English Language tut...

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