Past Subjunctive (le subjonctif passé) in French
The past subjunctive (le subjonctif passé) expresses an uncertain action, supposedly realized at the moment when we express ourselves. In others words the precedence of the action.
It is also used to express regrets.
- J'ai peur qu'elle soit partie. (I am afraid that she left.)
- Je suis heureuse que mes parents se soient réconciliés. (I am happy that my parents made peace.)
- C'est vraiment stupide que tu aies oublié ton livre à la maison. (it is too bad that you forgot your book at home.)
The action of the 'que' clause occurs before the action of the main clause (the moment you are talking about probably happened)
When using the subjunctive past in a subordinate clause, then the verb of the main proposition is in the present tense.
Formation and endings of the past subjunctive in French
The past subjunctive is made up of the present subjunctive of avoir or être + the past participle.
|Subjonctif présent||Participe passé||Objet|
|Nous sommes désolés||que vous ne soyez pas||venu||au bal du lycée|
|Ils sont heureux||que tu aies||eu||ton bac|
|Tu as peur||que je sois||parti||sans toi|
Conjugation of the past subjunctive with 'avoir'
Most verbs form the past subjunctive with avoir. The past participle conjugated with the auxiliary 'avoir' does not agree with the subject. It agrees with the Direct Object Complement if it is placed before the verb.
- Je ne pense pas qu'il aie acheté cette voiture. (I do not think he bought that car).
- Je ne pense pas qu'il l'ai achetée. (I do not think he bough it).
|parler (to speak)||finir (to finish)||travailler (to work)|
|que j'aie parlé||que j'aie fini||que j'aie travaillé|
|que tu aies parlé||que tu aies fini||que tu aies travaillé|
|qu'il/elle/on ait parlé||qu'il/elle/on ait fini||qu'il/elle/on ait travaillé|
|que nous ayons parlé||que nous ayons fini||que nous ayons travaillé|
|que vous ayez parlé||que vous ayez fini||que vous ayez travaillé|
|qu'ils/elles aient parlé||qu'ils/elles aient fini||qu'ils/elles aient travaillé|
You use the auxiliary 'avoir' to conjugate the past participle of 'avoir' and 'être'
- que tu aies eu (that I had)
- que vous ayez été (that you were)
Conjugation of the past subjunctive with 'être'
Verbs using 'être' are state verbs. You use it with reflexive verbs and with verbs of movement and lingering. The past subjunctive with 'être' agrees in gender and number with the noun they qualify. There are many verbs and among them you find:
|partir (to leave)||aller (to go)||venir (to come)|
|que je sois parti(e)||que je sois allé(e)||que je sois venu(e)|
|que tu sois parti(e)||que tu sois allé(e)||que tu sois venu(e)|
|qu'il/elle/on soit parti(e)||qu'il/elle/on soit allé(e)||qu'il/elle/on soit venu(e)|
|que nous soyons parti(e)s||que nous soyons allé(e)s||que nous soyons venu(e)s|
|que vous soyez parti(e)s||que vous soyez parti(e)s||que vous soyez venu(e)s|
|qu'ils/elles soient parti(e)s||qu'ils/elles soient parti(e)s||qu'ils/elles soient venu(e)s|
Others verbs that use the auxiliary verb 'être'.
- mourir (to die)
- devenir (to become)
- tomber (to fall)
- arriver (to arrive)
- sortir (to exit)
- revenir (to come back)
- venir (to come)
- entrer (to enter)
- rester (to stay)
- retourner (to return)
- apparaitre (to appear)
- naitre (to be born)
Keep your motivation and test your knowledge about the subjunctive with our exercises.
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