Posted by SraJMcGin on Thursday, April 17, 2008 at 12:46pm.
1. How to form the Subjunctive for regular verbs (Present Subjunctive):
Drop the -ant of the present participle and add these endings: -e, -es, -e, -ions, -iez, -ent. These endings are the same for all verbs except "avoir" and "être." (like donner)
Verbs with spelling changes like: employer, mener, appeler and espérer, have the same endings and the same spelling changes in the present subjunctive as in the present indicative. (appeler = qu'il appelle / qu'elle mène, que j'emploie, qu'elles espèrent)
2. Irregular verbs: the stem of most irregular verbs, as with regular verbs, can be found by dropping -ant of the present participle. (s'asseoir = s'asseyant = je m'asseye)
A few irregular verbs have a single irregular stem: (faire = fasse / pouvoir = puisse / savoir = sache.
A number of irregular verbs have TWO stems in the present subjunctive, one for "nous" & "vous" (just like present indicative) and one for the other forms. (aller = j'aille, nous allions / boire = je boive, nous buvions / croire = je croie, nous croyions / devoir = je doive, nous devions / envoyer = j'envoie, nous envoyions / mourir = je meure, nous mourions / prnedre = je prenne, nous prenions / recevoir = je reçoive, nous recevions / tenir = je tienne, nous tenions / valoir = je vaille, nous valions / venir = je vienne, nous venions / voir = je voie, nous voyions / vouloir = je veuille, nous voulions.
The only verbs with irregular endings are "avoir" and "être." (avoir = j'aie, gu aies, il/elle ait, nous ayons, vous ayez, ils/elles aient) (être = je sois, tu sois, il/elle soit, nous soyons, vous soyez, ils/elles soient)
3. Subjunctive after Impersonal Expressions (with uncertainity, possibility). (Remember those with certainity and probability do NOT use the subjunctive, but the indicative.)
il faut = it is necessary, must
il est nécessaire = it is necessary
il est bon = it is good (opinion only)
il est important = it is important
il est juste = it is right
il est possible = it is possible
il se peut = it may be
il est imposible = it is impossible
il est (c'est) dommage = it is a pity, it is a shame
il est temps = it is time
il semble = it seems
il vaut mieux = it is better
NOTE: You can classify all of these as opinion, emotion, judgment.
Some expressions of certainty or probability that use the indicative:
il est certain = it is certain
il est clair = it is clear
il est évident = it is evident
il est probable = it is probably
il est vrai = it is true
il paraît = it appears/seems
HOWEVER, if you use these expressions negatively or interrogatively, they generally express doubt and take the subjunctive!
4. Verbs/espressions of emotion, wishing, doubt
(important point is that there are 2 different subjects = I hope YOU go too. (J'espère que tu ailles aussi.) If there were only one subject, you can get away with an infinitive = I hope to go. (j'espère aller.)
a. emotion (joy, fear, sorrow)
avoir peur , craindre, étonner, regretter, être content/heureux/surpris
b. expressions of wishing, commanding
aimer mieux, préférer, défendre (forbid), désirer, ordonner, souhaîter, vouloir
c. expressions of doubt
douter, n'être pas sûr, certain, ne croire pas, also interrogative expressions asking if someone wants, believes, thinks, etc. OR in other words: Penser, croire, espérer used negatively or interrogatively generally imply doubt and use the subjunctive. Sometimes the indicative is used if the speaker believes it to be true. (Je ne crois pas qu'elle viendra. = future used as no doubt in my mind: I do not believe she will come.) versus (Je ne crois pas qu'elle vienne. = doubt implied in I do not believe she will come.)
BUT when these verbs are used BOTH negatively and interrogatively, they use the indicative since they suggest an affirmative answer with no doubt implied. (N'espérez-vous pas qu'il le fera? = Don't you hope he will do it?)
Now, perhaps you are REALLY in a panic? :) The speaker can sometimes choose indicative or subjunctive depending upon HOW SURE he/she is. Later you'll even find that verbs of fear can take "ne" in a declarative sentence (je crains qu'elle ne tombe = I'm afraid she'll fall.) Oh well, we can't worry about EVERYTHING all at once!
5. This is the "sticky wicket" so to speak: Conjunctions
a. conjunctions using subjunctive
afin que / pour que = in order that, so that (obligation)
avant que = before (time)
à moins que... (ne) = unless (doubt)
bien que / quoique = although
de crainte que...(ne) / de peur que...(ne) = for fear that, lest
jusqu'à ce que = until
pourvu que = provided that
sans que = without
NOTE: after the verb attendre, "que" alone is generally used to mean "until" = Attendez que je le fasse. = Wait until I do it.)
b. common conjunctions that use the indicative:
après que = after
aussitôt que / dès que = as soon as
parce que = because
pendant que = while
peut-être que = perhaps
puisque = since
tandis que = whereas, while
6. Indefinite antecedent = something/someone you are looking for but haven't found yet
Connaissez-vous quelqu'un qui sache parler français ? = Do you know anyone/someone who knows how to speak French? VERSUS Vous connaissez quelqu'un qui sait parler français. = You DO know someone who knows how to speak French.
7. Superlative expressions using the subjunctive because it's opinion, not necessarily fact. (One word for indicative is FACT but for subjunctive is NON-FACT) *IF that is one word!
le seul (the only) / le premier (the first) / le dernier (the last) Example: C'est la seule fois que je vous le dise. = That's the only time I'll tell it to you. (doubt that is true!)
8. Lastly for now! To express a third person imperative or wish, as in "Let George do it." That really has a command or wish that is not expressed but understood. (You go tell George to do it = direct command.) The English would be something like "let, have or may.
Well, that's more than enough for now! Hopefully I caught any & all typos! (Are you REALLY glad you asked?)
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