Le Subjuntive Subjunctive

Most of the tenses we've encountered so far (the present, past, future) describe concrete reality- that which is happening, happened, or will happen. The subjunctive (see subjunctive conjugations) expresses a reality that isn't concrete- what someone wants to happen or what might happen, for example.

In the following sentences, the subjunctive is used in the phrases expressing what someone wants- volition.


Elle veut que nous soyons à la fête.

She wants us to be at the party.
  J'aimerais que vous m'appeliez demain. I would like for you to call me tomorrow.
  Nous voulons que tu réussisses.
We want you to succeed.

In all but a few rare cases, the subjunctive will appear only in subordinate phrases- phrases introduced by the relative pronoun que. However, just because a verb is in a subordinate phrase does not mean it must be a subjunctive. The following subordinate phrase expresses concrete reality.


C'est vrai que Frank est né sur Mars.

It's true that Frank was born on Mars.

Beyond querer and me gustaria, volition can be expressed by giving orders, prohibiting something, or any other way where some desire is expressed.


Son ambition est que son fils devienne president.
His/her ambition is that his/her son becomes president.

  Le roi exige que vous rentriez à Versailles.
The king demands that you return to Versailles.

The subjunctive is also frequently used whenever there is the least bit of judgement made about something.


Il serait bon que Marie aille se brosser les dents.

  It would be good for Marie to go brush her teeth.
  Il vaut mieux que vous pensiez plus aux possibilités positives au lieu des possibilités negatives.
  It is better that you think more of the positive possibilities rather than the negative ones. How good that you are leaving!

Or when emotion is involved...


C'est incroyable que mon comptable aient perdu tout mon argent.
It's incredible that my accountant lost all my money.

  C'est indispensable que tu apprennes ta lecon.
It is essential that you learn your lesson.

This is just a quick introduction to the subjunctive, fully understanding all the nuances requieres a more in depth study.

  Le Fin The End
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