How to form the present tense subjunctive (simplified!)


First of all, what is the subjunctive anyway??

adjective: subjunctive
  1. relating to or denoting a mood of verbs expressing what is imagined or wished or possible

There are many situations in which you use the subjunctive mood in French, but in a nutshell, it is used when the outcome of a particular statement may (or may not) actually happen.  

ALWAYS use the subjunctive when the verb in question is followed by IL FAUT QUE….

The subjunctive will ALWAYS be followed by QUE (in a dependent clause).


Think about what “il faut que” means in English.  It means “it is necessary that”.  Just because you say that, for example, “It is necessary that your brother clean his room”… it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going to do it.

BUT WAIT…. Look at that verb in the previous example:  CLEAN  (we don’t say “my brother clean his room” in an independent clause)!

Yes, that’s right!!!  Even in English, this verb is in the subjunctive!  This is one of the pretty rare situations where you actually HEAR the subjunctive being used in English, but it’s proof that it exists!!  Can you think of other examples to write in the comments?


1.  Find the stem of the verb in question.  To do so, take the “nous” form of the “present indicative”, and drop the -ons.

2.  Add the “subjunctive endings” to the “stem”








Watch the following video to hear Jennifer’s lesson on how to form the present tense subjunctive, and don’t hesitate to ask any clarifying questions that may come up.  À bientôt!


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About Jennifer Crespin

I am a French teacher with 16 years of classroom experience. I am now giving private French lessons via Skype and in person in the South of France. Please visit my website for information on French or English Skype Lessons: www
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2 Responses to How to form the present tense subjunctive (simplified!)

  1. solaner says:

    Ou, that’s hard, at least for me.

    But thanks anyway.

    • Jennifer says:

      It does require a bit of mental aerobics, but give it a try! Once you get the hang of it, it does get easier :-) The main thing is to understand why the subjunctive is being used (and the “il faut que” is just one example of many). Once you understand at least why you’re using it, it makes more sense. The good news is that when using “-er” verbs, the subjunctive looks and sounds just like the regular present tense!

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