Le Passé
Les Pronoms Relatifs
L'Introduction au Subjonctif
Les Compléments d'Objet

Comment formuler le subjonctif – Sample

Watch the video above and/or read the written version below.

La conjugaison du subjonctif

The first thing to master when it comes to the subjunctive is how to form it. It can seem intimidating but actually, for the most part, you don’t need to memorise hundreds of new conjugations. You only need to remember three steps and you’ll be able to know immediately the conjugation of any new verb!

The key to mastering the subjunctive is to follow.the.steps because certain similarities with tenses of the indicative mode can lull you into a false sense of security 😅 .

Example 1: Verb from the 1st group.

We’ll use regarder (to watch/look at) for this example, which is a very regular verb from the 1st group, those whose infinitives end in er:

  1. Take the conjugation for the 3rd person plural (ils/elles) conjugation in the indicative present tense (normal present): Elles regardent les autres mamans au parc (They watch the other mums at the park).
  2. Remove the ent from the end: regard. That is now your base.
  3. Add the following endings onto the base:
    1. Je regarde.
    2. Tu regardes.
    3. Il/elle/on regarde.
    4. Nous regardions.
    5. Vous regardiez.
    6. Ils/elles regardent.
  4. Voilà ! The endings are always eeseionsiez, ent for 99.9% of verbs.

It looks very much like the regular present tense, right? With 1st group verbs, yes. 4/6 of the conjugations are the same. Handy!

Let’s see a complete side by side so you can closely compare.

Indicative presentSubjunctive present
Je regardeJe regarde
Tu regardesTu regardes
Il/elle/on regardeIl/elle/on regarde
Nous regardonsNous regardions
Vous regardezVous regardiez
Ils/elles regardentIls/elles regardent

With verbs from the other groups, this is not the case & this is that false sense of security I was talking about.

If you get stuck, always go back to these steps. Don’t try to guess from some similarity with another mode or tense. It will cost you time in the long run.

Some verbs from the 1st group

  • Regarder (to watch/look at).
  • Manger (to eat).
  • Appeler (to call).
  • Essayer (to try).
  • Conseiller (to advise).
  • Parler (to speak).
  • Reculer (to move backwards).
  • Avancer (to advance/move forwards).
  • S’améliorer (to improve).
  • Ranger (to tidy/put away).

Example 2: Verb from the 2nd group.

Let’s see an example for another verb: finir (to finish). This one is from the 2nd group:

  1. Third person plural in the present tense: Ils finissent leurs devoirs (They finish their homework).
  2. Remove the entfiniss.
  3. Add the endings:
    1. Je finisse.
    2. Tu finisses.
    3. Il/elle/on finisse.
    4. Nous finissions.
    5. Vous finissiez.
    6. Ils/elles finissent.

You see that because the ils/elles conjugation in the indicative present is irregular, the bases for all the other conjugations change too. Hence the need to always come back to the steps.

Some verbs from the 2nd group

  • Finir (to finish).
  • Grandir (to grow [up]).
  • Ralentir (to slow down).
  • Atterrir (to land).
  • Rebondir (to rebound).
  • Subir (to undergo).
  • Agir (to act).
  • Choisir (to choose).

Example 3: Verb from the 3rd group.

Here’s a final example with a verb from the 3rd group, rejoindre (to join):

  1. Third person plural in the indicative present tense: Mes amis rejoignent un groupe Facebook (My friends join a Facebook group).
  2. Remove the ent: rejoign.
  3. Add the endings:
    1. Je rejoigne.
    2. Tu rejoignes.
    3. Il/elle/on rejoigne.
    4. Nous rejoignions.
    5. Vous rejoigniez.
    6. Ils/elles rejoignent.

Some verbs from the 3rd group

  • Rejoindre (to join).
  • Craindre (to fear).
  • Cueillir (to pick [plants]).
  • Acquérir (to acquire).
  • Confondre (to confuse/mix up).
  • Cuire (to cook).
  • Écrire (to write).
  • Lire (to read).

Remember the steps

  1. Ils/elles conjugation from the present indicative.
  2. Remove the ent.
  3. Add the endings eeseionsiezent.