Conjugating Regular French Verbs in the Subjunctive

Subjunctive conjugations are straightforward, especially with regular verbs

Subjunctive

Before launching into the technical conjugations of the French subjunctive, a review of how to use the mysterious subjunctive is in order. The subjunctive mood essentially expresses subjectivity and unreality. It is used with actions or ideas that are subjective or otherwise uncertain, such as will or wanting, emotion, doubt, possibility, necessity and judgment.

When to Use the Subjunctive

To be more specific, this mood is used with:

  • Expressions of will (orders, advice, desires)
  • Emotions and feelings
  • Opinion, possibility, doubt
  • Affirmative versus negative statements
  • Conjunctive phrases
  • Superlatives
  • Negative and indefinite pronouns

It is nearly always found in dependent clauses introduced by que or qui, and the subjects of the dependent and main clauses are usually different. For example,

  •  Je veux que tu le fasses. > I want you to do it.
  •  Il faut que nous partions. > We have to leave.

The Regular Subjunctive 

While using the subjunctive may take a while to fully understand, conjugating it is relatively straightforward, especially with regular verbs. On thing though: There is no future tense in the subjunctive. 

To conjugate all regular verbs ending in -er, -ir, and -re, as well as some irregular ones, start with the third person plural ils form of the present tense of the verb. Then just drop the -ent ending to find the stem and add the subjunctive endings.

Important: Many verbs that are irregular in the present tense are regular in the subjunctive, including all -ir verbs conjugated like partir and sortir and -re verbs conjugated like mettre.

The Irregular Subjunctive

For irregular subjunctive conjugations, irregular verbs as well as all stem-changing verbs have irregular subjunctive conjugations.

Keep in mind that stem-changing verbs and most irregular verbs follow the same pattern as regular verbs for the singular conjugations (jetuil/elle/on) as well as the third person plural (ils/elles): The subjunctive stem is derived from the present tense conjugation of ils.

Conjugating the Regular Subjunctive

Now back to regular verbs in the subjunctive. The key is to find the verb's third person plural form in the present tense, identify the stem and add all the subjunctive endings to that stem. Adhere to the conjugation patterns shown below in number and person.

Conjugating Regular French Verbs in the Subjunctive

  parlerchoisirrendrepartirsortirmettre
 ils parlentchoisissentrendentpartentsortentmettent
 stem parl-choisiss-rend-part-sort-mett-
Subjunctive endings:       
... que je-eparlechoisisserendepartesortemette
... que tu-esparleschoisissesrendespartessortesmettes
... qu' il/elle/on -eparlechoisisserendepartesortemette
... que nous-ionsparlionschoisissionsrendionspartionssortionsmettions
... que vous-iezparliezchoisissiezrendiezpartiezsortiezmettiez
... qu' ils/elles-entparlentchoisissentrendentpartentsortentmettent