Formation of the French subjunctive
On this page, we will see how to form the subjunctive. We are specifically dealing with the form that is often referred to as the present subjunctive. But this is in fact the only simple subjunctive form in current use in contemporary French and we will refer to it here simply as "the subjunctive".
Formation of the subjunctive is generally quite straightforward provided that you know certain other forms of the verb. It can be summed up as follows:
Note that the majority of verbs which are otherwise considered "irregular" are completely regular as far as the formation of the subjunctive is concerned.
The nous and vous forms
As mentioned, the nous and vous forms of the subjunctive are identical to the imperfect for almost all verbs. For example:
il ne faut pas que vous dormiez
you mustn't sleep
il ne faut pas que nous le perdions de vue
we mustn't lose sight of him
je veux que vous vous conduisiez bien
I want you to behave properly
Suggest a change / proposez une modification
As in other tenses, the nous form is actually quite formal in everyday French and generally replaced by on.
The other forms (singular and third person plural)
The other forms (je, tu, il, ils) are generally based on the third person plural of the present tense of the verb in question. In the spoken language, they sound identical. In the written language, the difference is that instead of -ent, the forms end in -e(s) in the singular. (The -s is added in the tu form, just like it is in any other tense.) So that gives forms such as the following:
This means that in the spoken language, except in the nous and vous forms:
As mentioned, a handful of key French verbs have irregular subjunctive forms. These are dealt with on the next page.