The subjunctive in French

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The subjunctive

The subjunctive in French often follows the following types of verbs or expressions.
•  Verbs of feeling: aimer que, préférer que, être content / triste / heureux que, avoir peur que
Nous sommes contents que vous alliez dans notre pays. We’re happy that you are coming to our country.
J’ai peur qu’il ne vienne pas ce soir. I’m afraid that he won’t come this evening.
•  Verbs of necessity: il faut que, il est nécessaire/essentiel/important que
Il faut que tu sois à la réunion. You need to be at the meeting.
Il est essentiel que nous finissions ce projet. It’s essential that we finish this project.
•  Verbs that express someone’s will, desire, wishes, vows and prayer: vouloir que, désirer que, souhaiter que, ...
Je veux que mon mari fasse la cuisine. I want my husband to cook.
Je souhaite qu’elle revienne au plus vite. I want her to come back as quickly as possible.
We use the subjunctive after certain conjunctive phrases: avant que (before) bien que (although), à moins que (unless), quoique (although, even if, whatever), pour que (in order to/that, so that), etc.
Je reste ici à moins que tu partes. I’ll remain here unless you leave.
Qu’est-ce que je dois faire pour que tu comprennes ? What do I have to do so that you understand?
Viens me voir avant que je parte en vacances. Come see me before I leave on holiday.
Note:
•  The subjunctive tense is almost always preceded (and signalled) by que.
Je regrette qu’elle ne soit pas là. I’m sorry that she isn’t here.
•  The verb espérer (to hope) is followed by a verb in the indicative.
J’espère que tu vas bien. I hope you’re well. (not j’espère que tu ailles bien.)

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