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How to form the French subjunctive

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In Part 1 we saw how the subjunctive is used. Time now to see how it is formed!

When evoking the subjunctive, we usually refer to the present subjunctive, but the past tense can also be conjugated in the subjunctive mood. Below are some tips on how to form the present subjunctive and at the end you can find the past subjunctive.

When evoking the subjunctive, we usually refer to the present subjunctive, but the past tense can also be conjugated in the subjunctive mood. Below are some tips on how to form the present subjunctive and at the end you can find the past subjunctive.

Regular verbs: -er verbs

Good news: it is like the indicative present (or regular present) you first learned on your French journey except for nous and vous.

  1. subjunctive present = regular present for je, tu, il, elle, on, ils, elles

  2. add i before nous and vous endings.

Let’s take the most romantic verb aimer [to love]:

Screen Shot 2021-09-06 at 6.13.59 PM

   IMPORTANT 

You may see two ‘i’ in a row! No worries, it’s perfectly normal. 

étudier → Il faut que nous etudiions          to studyWe must study

-ir verbs, -re verbs, two-stem-verbs

Here is the rule that never fails for je, tu, il, elle, on, ils, elles. 

Two-step technique (before you end up knowing them by heart):

Screen Shot 2021-09-06 at 6.16.54 PM

Nous and vous are often the odd ones. The stem for nous and vous will be different. Here is the two-step technique for these two:

Screen Shot 2021-09-06 at 6.17.44 PM

   IMPORTANT

Even though their spelling will vary, verbs sound exactly the same for je, tu, il, elle, on, ils, elles!

→ Check this website to practice and this one for pronunciation.

Irregular verbs: lucky number 7

Here are the 7 verbs you need to know by heart 💛 to make your life easier in French!

  1. être                  to be

  2. avoir                 to have

  3. aller                  to go

  4. vouloir              to want

  5. faire                  to do

  6. savoir                to know

  7. pouvoir              to be able to

Screen Shot 2021-09-06 at 6.24.45 PM

Past subjunctive

Finally, the past subjunctive is easy as long as you know the subjunctive of avoir and être, which you can find in the table above.

subjunctive of avoir or être + past participle

Je suis contente que tu sois venu hier !
I’m happy you came yesterday!

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Want to practice? Check out our exercise and this website!

Céline Bateman-Paris

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