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regular subjunctive
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1. -er, -re, and -ir verbs
  2. irregular verbs with regular subjunctive forms (dormir, etc.)
  3. stem changing verbs

The subjunctive is one of four moods in French (indicative, imperative, subjunctive and conditional). A mood is a grammatical term which helps categorize verb tenses. The subjunctive mood is used more frequently in French than in English. It has two tenses: present and past. It expresses several concepts, such as a wish, hope, or doubt, as well as an obligation or a necessity. One such expression which is always followed by the subjunctive is il faut que (it is necessary that ...).

-er, -re, and -ir verbs
The subjunctive endings are the same for all verbs: -e, -es, -e, -ions, -iez, -ent. For most verbs, the subjunctive mood is formed by dropping the -ent ending from the third person plural of the present indicative and adding the subjunctive endings. Note the similarities between the present indicative and the present subjunctive of -er verbs. This is due to the fact that the same stem is used for the subjunctive and the present indicative; the endings are also identical except for the nous and vous forms. This means that the 'boot' forms of the subjunctive of regular -er verbs look and sound exactly like the present indicative.

Because the subjunctive occurs in subordinate clauses, the subordinating conjunction que is usually included as part of the paradigm for the subjunctive forms.

parler  'to speak'
... que je parle ... que nous parlions
... que tu parles ... que vous parliez
... qu'il/elle/on parle ... qu'ils/elles parlent
finir  'to finish'
... que je finisse ... que nous finissions
... que tu finisses ... que vous finissiez
... qu'il/elle/on finisse ... qu'ils/elles finissent
attendre  'to wait for'
... que j'attende ... que nous attendions
... que tu attendes ... que vous attendiez
... qu'il/elle/on attende ... qu'ils/elles attendent

In the singular for -re and -ir verbs, the subjunctive looks and sounds different from the present indicative since the stem is different for the two moods. Listen:

present indicative   present subjunctive
je finis   ... que je finisse
j'attends   ... que j'attende

Note that, for all conjugations, the third person plural of the present subjunctive always looks and sounds like the present indicative since the stem for the subjunctive comes from the third person plural.

present indicative   present subjunctive
ils parlent   ... qu'ils parlent
ils finissent   ... qu'ils finissent
ils attendent   ... qu'ils attendent

irregular verbs with regular subjunctive forms (dormir, etc.)
Many verbs that are irregular in the present indicative are regular in forming the subjunctive. In other words, the stem is formed by removing the -ent ending from the third person plural of the present indicative and then the endings -e, -es, -e, -ions, -iez, -ent are added. Following are some irregular verbs, with the corresponding regular subjunctive forms.

dormir   to sleep   ... que je dorme
sortir   to go out   ... que je sorte
partir   to leave   ... que je parte
lire   to read   ... que je lise
sourire   to smile   ... que je sourie
dire   to say   ... que je dise
écrire   to write   ... que j'écrive
mettre   to put   ... que je mette
connaître   to know   ... que je connaisse

stem changing verbs
Some verbs with stem changes in the present indicative have one stem for the subjunctive of the 'nous' and 'vous' forms and another stem for the 'boot' forms. These verbs, such as acheter, appeler use the same two changes in the present subjunctive.

Tex: Il faut que j'appelle Paw-Paw ce soir.   Tex: I have to call Paw-Paw tonight.
Tammy: D'accord. A quelle heure est-ce qu'il faut que nous appelions Paw-Paw?   Tammy: Okay. What time do we have to call Paw-Paw?

il faut que j'appelle paw-paw ce soir!

Tex explique les règles à ses étudiants:   Tex explains the rules to his students:
Il faut que vous parliez clairement; pas de chewing-gum!   You must speak clearly; no chewing gum!
Bien sûr, il faut qu'on finisse avant midi. Le déjeuner, c'est sacré!   Of course, we must end before meal times. Lunch is sacred!
Joe-Bob, il faut que tu attendes la fin du cours avant de dormir.   Joe-Bob, you must wait until the end of class before sleeping.
Et il faut que nous sortions ensemble après le cours de révision pour prendre un verre.   We must go out together after the review to have a drink.


fill in the blanks
Fill in the blank with the subjunctive of the verb in parentheses.
1. Tex : Il faut que j'__________ à Paw-Paw. (écrire)

2. Bette : Il faut que Tex m' ___________ mieux que Tammy! (aimer)

3. Tex : Il faut que nous ___________ en vacances. (partir)

4. Paw-Paw : Il faut que Tex m'___________ plus souvent. (appeler)

5. Tex : Il faut que vous ___________ davantage. (travailler)

6. Tammy : Il faut que Tex _________ moins. (sortir)

7. Fiona : Il faut que je ___________ un cours intéressant. (choisir)

8. Tammy : Tex préfère que je _________ le couvert. (mettre)

9. Tammy : Tex veut que nous _________ quelques années avant le mariage. (attendre)

10. Edouard : Il faut que nous ___________ dans un bon restaurant. (manger)

11. Tammy : Il ne faut pas que vous __________ en mangeant ('while eating')! (parler)

12. Tex : Il faut que Tammy __________ mes poèmes! (lire)