French Verb 'Vouloir Que' Wants the Emotional Subjunctive

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When vouloir ("to want") precedes a dependent clause beginning with que, the dependent clause uses a subjunctive verb. Vouloir may be the ultimate example of those French verbs expressing someone's will, an order, a need, a piece of advice or a desire; they all also take a subjunctive verb in the que subordinate clause.

Je veux qu'il le fasse.
I want him to do it.

'Vouloir' and 'Vouloir Que'

When used with quevouloir becomes vouloir que ("to want to"), which introduces a dependent clause that uses the French subjunctive. Vouloir que is all about the emotion of wanting. Thus, it fulfills the subjunctive's basic requirement of expressing actions or ideas that are subjective or otherwise uncertain.

  Je ne veux pas que tu lui dises.
I don't want you to tell him.

  Je voudrais que tu ranges ta chambre.
I'd like you to clean your room.

  Que voulez-vous que je fasse ?
What do you want me to do?

This 24/7 subjunctive rule does not apply, however, to the sibling expression vouloir dire que (to mean that), which is one of several verbs and expressions that do not take the subjunctive when used in the affirmative since they express facts and certainty then (not the uncertainty the subjunctive requires). Vouloir dire que and like expressions do, however, take the subjunctive when in the negative or interrogatory modes.

As with vouloir que, the French subjunctive is nearly always found in dependent clauses introduced by que or qui, and the subjects of the dependent and main clauses are usually different, as in:

  Il faut que nous partions.
It is necessary that we leave. / We have to leave.

French Verbs and Expressions Similar to 'Vouloir Que'

Here are other verbs and expressions that, like vouloir que, communicate someone's will, an order, a need, a piece of advice, or a desire. They all require the subjunctive in the dependent clause that begins with que. There are many other types of constructions that require the French subjunctive as well, which are explained and listed in the full-on "subjunctivator" (our term).

  • aimer mieux que > to prefer that
  • commander que > to order that
  • demander que > to ask that (someone do something)
  • désirer que > to desire that
  • donner l'ordre que > to order that
  • empêcher que* > to prevent (someone from doing something)
  • éviter que* > to avoid
  • exiger que > to demand that
  • il est à souhaiter que > it is to be hoped that
  • il est essentiel que > it is essential that
  • il est important que > it is important that
  • il est naturel que > it is natural that
  • il est nécessaire que > it is necessary that
  • il est normal que > it is normal that
  • il est temps que > it is time that
  • il est urgent que > it is urgent that
  • il faut que > it is necessary that / we must
  • il vaut mieux que > it is better that
  • interdire que > to forbid that
  • s'opposer que > to oppose that
  • ordonner que > to order that
  • permettre que > to permit that
  • préférer que > to prefer that
  • proposer que > to propose that
  • recommander que > to recommend
  • souhaiter que > to wish that
  • suggérer que > to suggest that
  • tenir à ce que > to insist that
  • vouloir que > to want to

*These verbs are followed by the more formal ne explétif, in which only ne is used in negations (without pas), as in:

  Évitez qu'il ne parte.Prevent him from leaving.

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Team, ThoughtCo. "French Verb 'Vouloir Que' Wants the Emotional Subjunctive." ThoughtCo, Dec. 6, 2021, Team, ThoughtCo. (2021, December 6). French Verb 'Vouloir Que' Wants the Emotional Subjunctive. Retrieved from Team, ThoughtCo. "French Verb 'Vouloir Que' Wants the Emotional Subjunctive." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 5, 2023).