Le subjonctif passé
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Le subjonctif passéThe subjunctive past tense is used for actions that happen before the action in the main clause. This contrasts with the subjunctive present which describes present or subsequent actions.
Je doute qu’ils réussissent leur examen I doubt they will pass their exam (the present subjunctive qu’ils réussissent happens after je doute).
The subjunctive past is formed using the subjunctive present of auxiliary verbs avoir conjugaison or être conjugaison + the past participle of the verb.
comprendre que tu aies compris that you understood (or ‘you had understood’)
avoir que nous ayons eu that we had (or ‘we had had’)
partir qu’ils soient partis that they left (or ‘they had left’)
We use the subjunctive (present and past) to express emotions (fear, joy, etc), doubt, obligation, or necessity and after certain conjunctions (bien que, although/though ; à moins que, unless ; quoique, although/even if ; pour que, in order to, etc.).
Je vais en parler à Muriel et Marcel immédiatement à moins qu’ils ne soient déjà partis. I’ll speak to Muriel and Marcel immediately unless they have already left.
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