If you have already reviewed the Uses of the subjunctive page, you probably noticed some pretty strange-looking verb forms compared to what you may be used to in the présent de l'indicatif. It is true that many French verbs are highly irregular in the subjunctive mood. We will list some of those forms here. But, luckily, since most French verbs are of the "regular -er" type, you will find these much simpler to learn and the most likely to be used. Have fun!! !!!!


Regular -er verbs

As you will see here, the -er forms of the present subjunctive are highly similar to the present indicative forms. The stem of the verb remains the same: we remove the -er ending and add the subjunctive endings. Only the nous and vous end ings are different from the present indicative. So, in many case, the subjunctive is indistinguishable from the indicative. We will use "parler" (to speak) as our example.


Present subjunctive endings for -er verbs

je (I) = e nous (we) = ions
tu (you) = es vous (you) = iez
il (he) = e ils (they) = ent
Thus, when we combine the stem and the endings, we have:

Present subjunctive of parler = to speak

je parle = I speak nous parlions = we speak
tu parles = you speak vous parliez = you speak
il parle = he speaks ils parlent = they speak

Examples of usage in a sentence:

Il faut que vous parliez en classe aujourd'hui. = It is necessary that you will talk in class today.
Est-ce que vous croyez que je parle anglais? = Do you believe that I speak English?


Regular -re verbs

Like regular -er verbs in the present subjunctive, regular -re verbs do not change their stems from the present indicatif: simply remove the -re and add the present subjunctif endings. However, these endings change more significantly in -re verbs than i n -er verbs. Let's use descendre as our example:


Present subjunctive endings of regular -re verbs

je (I) = e nous (we) = ions
tu (you) = es vous (you) = iez
il (he) = e ils (they) = ent
Now, let's combine the stem "descend_" with the endings to get the correct verb forms:


Present subjunctive of descendre = to descend

je descende = I descend nous descendions = we descend
tu descendes = you descend vous descendiez = you descend
il descende = he descends ils descendent = they descend

Examples of usage in a sentence:

Bien qu'il descende les escaliers tous les jours sans problème, il est tombé ce matin. = Even though he goes down the stairs every day without difficulty, he fell this morning.
Elle ouvrira la porte avant que nous descendions les valises. = She will open the door before we bring down the suitcases.


Regular -ir verbs

The regular -ir verbs conjugation in the present subjunctive is not dissimilar to its conjugation in the present indicative, but it is very interesting, especially in the singular forms. Like the other groups of regular verbs, the stem for -ir verbs does not change in the subjunctive. But, the endings can become very interesting. We'll use finir as an example:


Present subjunctive endings of regular -ir verbs

je (I) = isse nous (we) = issions
tu (you) = isses vous (you) = issiez
il (he) = isse ils (they) = issent
You notice that the two of the plural forms: vous, nous simply add "i" after the "iss." However, the other forms (except for ils change quite significantly. If you simply think "iss", you'll be OK for -ir verbs in the subjunctive.


Present subjunctive of finir = to finish

je finisse = I finish nous finissions = we finish
tu finisses = you finish vous finissiez = you finish
il finisse = he finishes ils finissent= they finish

Examples of usage in a sentence

Ma mère est contente que je finisse mes études. = My mother is happy that I am finishing my studies.
Vous ne serez pas permis de jouer avec vos amis à moins que vous ne finissiez de ranger votre chambre! = You will not be allowed to play with your friends unless you finish straightening up your room!

Present subjunctive of être

The verb être is relatively strange in its subjunctive forms. However, because we will need it later to make some past subjunctive conjugations, and to express many ideas about being, it is important to memorize it. We will not discuss a stem or endings for this verb. We will simply provide you with the forms and you can divide the stems and endings in the way that makes it easiest for you to understand. As you continue your study of the subjunctive (as well as the rest of verb forms), you will find that no matter how irregular a verb may seem, it does follow some pattern, so don't give up!


Present subjunctive of être = to be

je sois = I may be/I be/I am nous soyons = we may be/we be/we are
tu sois = you may be/you be/you are vous soyez = you may be/you be/you are
il soit = he may be/he be/he is ils soient = they may be/they be/they are

Present subjunctive of avoir

Avoiris a critical verb in all its tenses and moods because it is used to form the vast majority of all compound tenses. Unfortunately, it doesn't have a regular conjugation pattern in the present subjunctive. The forms are as follows:

Present subjunctive of avoir = to have

j'aie = I may have/I have nous ayons = we may have/we have
tu aies = you have/you may have vous ayez = you may have/you have
il ait = he may have/he has ils aient = they may have/they have

Present subjunctive of aller

The verb aller is used so much in our daily lives that it will be necessary to know it in the subjunctive. Of course, it is irregular and should be memorized. Remember to consult the Uses of the Present Subjunctive f or more information regarding how and when to use the subjunctive.

Present subjunctive of aller = to go

j'aille = I may go/I go nous allions = we may go/we go
tu ailles = you go/you may go vous alliez = you may go/you go
il aille = he may go/he go/he goes ils aillent = they may go/they go

Present subjunctive of faire

Faire is another irregular, but important verb to know in all its tenses. The subjunctive is no exception.

Present subjunctive of faire = to make/to do

je fasse = I may do/I do nous fassions = we may do/we do
tu fasses = you do/you may do vous fassiez = you may do/you do
il fasse = he may do/he do/he does ils fassent = they do/they may do

Present subjunctive of prendre

Present subjunctive of prendre = to take

je prenne = I may take/I take nous prenions = we may take/we take
tu fasses = you take/you take vous fassiez = you may take/you take
il fasse = he may take/he take/he takes ils fassent = they take/they may take

  • Note that "prendre" is used instead of "faire" in the expression "prendre une décision."
    --Il est essentiel que nous prenions une décision aussitôt que possible.

    Present subjunctive of reflexive (pronominal) verbs

    Reflexive (pronominal) verbs are conjugated in the subjunctive just as they would be if they were not reflexive. (Refer to Reflexive of the Present Indicativefor questions regarding proper usage of reflexive ver bs.)

    Present subjunctive of se laver = to wash oneself

    je me lave = I (may) wash myself nous nous lavions = we (may) wash ourselves
    tu te laves = you (may) wash yourself vous vous laviez = you (may) wash yourself
    il se lave = he (may) wash himself ils se lavent = they (may) wash themselves

    Il est important que l'on se lave après avoir fait de l'exercise. = It is important that one wash oneself after having exercised.