French Grammar: The Subjunctive – Other Uses

Creative Commons Image via The LEAF Project

Creative Commons Image via The LEAF Project

Identify:

French Grammar: The Subjunctive – Other Uses
la grammaire française: le subjonctif – d’autres usages

Review:

Study:

The subjunctive is used when we are uncertain whether or not an action will take place. If we know that the action is or will be a reality, the indicative is used. The subjunctive is used to express doubt, how a person feels about an action or state of being, a wish, intent or command. It can also be used to express facts that are the opposite of reality.

The following is a list of other uses of the subjunctive:

a) WITH THE SUPERLATIVE:

The subjunctive is used with superlative constructions that express a personal opinion or judgment.

Example:

C’est l’homme le plus obstiné que je connaisse.
He is the most stubborn man (that) I know.

The subjunctive is also used with:

le/la/les dernier(-ère)(s) : the last

le/la/les premier(-ère)(s) : the first

le/la/les meilleur(-e)(s) : the best

le/la/les seul(-e)(s) : the only

l’unique : the only

Examples:

Elle est la seule personne qui vienne.
She is the only person who is coming.

C’est le meilleur film que j’aie jamais vu.
It is the best film that I have ever seen.

b) WITH CERTAIN RELATIVE CLAUSES:

The subjunctive is normally used in relative clauses after verbs that express desiring, dreaming of, needing, searching for, wanting, wishing for, etc. a noun (person or thing) in the main clause that is either nonexistent, indefinite, or sought after but not yet found – that is, when the existence of that person or thing is uncertain or in doubt. (Also see the LEAF French lesson on The Subjunctive with expressions of Doubt, Disbelief, and Possibility.)

Compare:

Le patron préfère un secrétaire qui soit bilingue. (indefinite –> subjunctive)
The boss prefers a secretary who is bilingual.

Le patron préfère ce secrétaire qui est bilingue. (definite –> indicative)
The boss prefers this secretary who is bilingual.

c) WITH THIRD-PERSON COMMANDS:

The subjunctive is used with third-person commands and with main clauses that convey wishes or commands:

Vive la France! : Long live France!

Qu‘il soit heureux! : May he be happy!

Qu‘elles entrent! : Let them (feminine) come in!

Adapt: 

C’est le meilleur produit qu’il vende.
This is the best product that he sells.

Je cherche une maison qui ait quatre chambres.
I am looking for a house that has four bedrooms.

C’est la plus grande araignée que j’aie jamais vue!
That’s the biggest spider that I’ve ever seen!

Il n’y a personne qui veuille nous aider?
There is no one who wants to help us?

C’est le dernier bus que tu puisses prendre au centre-ville.
This is the last bus that you (informal) can take downtown.

Vive le roi!
Long live the king!

Explore: