Does The French Conjunction 'Tant Que' Need the Subjunctive?

The French connector 'tant que' deals in certainty, so no subjunctive here.

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Lawless, Laura K. "Does The French Conjunction 'Tant Que' Need the Subjunctive?" ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2017, thoughtco.com/does-tant-que-subjunctive-1369309. Lawless, Laura K. (2017, August 27). Does The French Conjunction 'Tant Que' Need the Subjunctive? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/does-tant-que-subjunctive-1369309 Lawless, Laura K. "Does The French Conjunction 'Tant Que' Need the Subjunctive?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/does-tant-que-subjunctive-1369309 (accessed September 22, 2017).

Tant que is a conjunctive phrase (locution conjonctive) that, unlike many other conjunctive phrases, does not need the subjunctive. It means "as / so much as" or "as long as / while / since," depending on the context.

Tant que is a phrase that communicates certainty and intensifies quantity, frequency, degree and the like. Thus, there is really no reason for the subjective subjunctive.

  • Tant que tu es ici, tu peux m'aider. > As long as / Since you're here, you can help me.
  • J'ai tant lu que j'ai mal aux yeux. > I read so much that my eyes hurt.
  • Il a tant manger, qu'il est malade. > He ate so much that he's sick.
  • Tant que tu es la, cherche mes lunettes. > As long as / since you're here, look for my glasses.
  • Tu peux rester tant que tu veux. > You can stay as long as you want.

'Tant Que' vs. 'Autant Que'

Do not confuse tant que with autant que, another conjunctive phrase that seems similar but is really more about equalizing and comparisons. It, too, is an adaptable and widely used phrase in French that has a number of possible meanings in English: as far as, as / so much as or as long as / while. So while tant que is about intensity, autant que is about balance. Autant que communicates conjecture and doubt, so the verb following it should be in the subjunctive, indicated in bold below:

  • Autant que je me souvienne... > As far as I remember...
  • Autant que je vous le dise tout de suite. > I may as well tell you right now.

    Other French Conjunctive Phrases

    A conjunctive phrase is a group of two or more words that function as a conjunction that links clauses. French conjunctive phrases end in que, and many, but not all, are subordinating conjunctions, rather than coordinating conjunctions, that require a subjunctive verb.

    One asterisk below indicates those that take the subjunctive.

    • à condition que* > provided that
    • afin que* > so that
    • ainsi que > just as, so as
    • alors que > while, whereas
    • autant que* > as far as / as much as / while
    • à mesure que > as (progressively)
    • à moins que** > unless
    • après que > after, when
    • à supposer que* > assuming that
    • au cas où > in case
    • aussitôt que > as soon as
    • avant que** > before
    • bien que* > although
    • dans l'hypothèse où > in the event that
    • de crainte que** > for fear that
    • de façon que* > in such a way that
    • de manière que* > so that
    • de même que > just as
    • de peur que** >for fear that
    • depuis que > since
    • de sorte que* > so that, in such a way that
    • dès que > as soon as
    • en admettant que* > assuming that
    • en attendant que* > while, until
    • encore que* > even though
    • jusqu'à ce que* > until
    • parce que > because
    • pendant que > while
    • pour que* > so that
    • pourvu que* > provided that
    • quand bien même > even though/if
    • quoi que* > whatever, no matter what
    • sans que** > without
    • sitôt que > as soon as
    • supposé que* > supposing
    • tandis que > while, whereas
    • tant que  > as long as
    • vu que > seeing as/that

    *These conjunctions must be followed by the subjunctive.
    **These conjunctions require the subjunctive as well as the ne explétif, a more formal negation that uses ne without pas.

    Additional Resources

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    Your Citation
    Lawless, Laura K. "Does The French Conjunction 'Tant Que' Need the Subjunctive?" ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2017, thoughtco.com/does-tant-que-subjunctive-1369309. Lawless, Laura K. (2017, August 27). Does The French Conjunction 'Tant Que' Need the Subjunctive? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/does-tant-que-subjunctive-1369309 Lawless, Laura K. "Does The French Conjunction 'Tant Que' Need the Subjunctive?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/does-tant-que-subjunctive-1369309 (accessed September 22, 2017).