When to Use the Subjunctive With "Pendant que"

Ask Yourself: Is It a Fact?

Woman working in kitchen, man cooking

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Is pendant que subjunctive or indicative? This is a question that challenges many French students and there's a simple answer. First, you must ask if pendant que (while) is indeed a fact.

Does "Pendant Que" Need the Subjunctive?

No, pendant que does not take the subjunctive. Pendant que means "while" and the act of doing something while something else is occurring is a reality and a truth. There is no question to pendant que.

Here's an example sentence:

  • J'étudie pendant qu'il fait la cuisine.
  • I study while he cooks.

Why doesn't it take the subjunctive? Because the word while states a fact. There is no question in this example that "I am studying while he cooks." The fact is, therefore, an indicative mood. If there was any question as to the nature of while or pendant que, then it would be subjunctive.

Let's look at another example:

  • Elle dessine pendant que je regarde.
  • She draws while I watch.

Is there any question here about the reality of her drawing? No, it is a fact that she is drawing and that I am watching. There is no question or uncertainty in this sentence. 

One last example should concrete the concept of pendant que:

  • Il attend pendant qu'ils réparent la voiture.
  • He is waiting while they repair the car.

Again, these are facts and there is no question as to what each person involved is doing.

Tip: The same subjunctive rules that apply to pendant que also cover tandis que, which also means "while."

It's All About Facts

Pendant que states a fact. Always keep in mind that the subjunctive has some degree of uncertainty. If your statement cannot be subjective, then it cannot be subjunctive. Use this theory as you encounter and question other possible subjunctive and indicative words and phrases.

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Team, ThoughtCo. "When to Use the Subjunctive With "Pendant que"." ThoughtCo, Dec. 6, 2021, thoughtco.com/does-pendant-que-subjunctive-1369260. Team, ThoughtCo. (2021, December 6). When to Use the Subjunctive With "Pendant que". Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/does-pendant-que-subjunctive-1369260 Team, ThoughtCo. "When to Use the Subjunctive With "Pendant que"." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/does-pendant-que-subjunctive-1369260 (accessed March 25, 2023).