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Past Subjunctive (le subjonctif passé) in French

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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.)

enlightenedThe action of the 'que' clause occurs before the action of the main clause (the moment you are talking about probably happened)

enlightened 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 présentParticipe passé Objet 
Nous sommes désolésque vous ne soyez pasvenu au bal du lycée 
Ils sont heureux que tu aies eu ton bac 
Tu as peurque je sois parti sans toi

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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.

Examples :

  • 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 parléque j'aie finique j'aie travaillé
que tu aies parlé que tu aies finique tu aies travaillé
qu'il/elle/on ait parléqu'il/elle/on ait finiqu'il/elle/on ait travaillé
que nous ayons parléque nous ayons finique nous ayons travaillé
que vous ayez parléque vous ayez finique vous ayez travaillé
qu'ils/elles aient parléqu'ils/elles aient finiqu'ils/elles aient travaillé 

enlightenedYou 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)sque nous soyons allé(e)sque nous soyons venu(e)s
que vous soyez parti(e)sque vous soyez parti(e)sque vous soyez venu(e)s
qu'ils/elles soient parti(e)squ'ils/elles soient parti(e)squ'ils/elles soient venu(e)s

enlightened 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)

yes Keep your motivation and test your knowledge about the subjunctive with our exercises.


  1. Exercise for the past subjunctive in French I
  2. French past subjunctive exercise II
  3. French le subjonctif passé exercise III
  4. French le subjonctif passé exercice IV

Exercise for the past subjunctive in French I

French past subjunctive exercise II

French le subjonctif passé exercise III

French le subjonctif passé exercice IV

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