French Grammar Glossary: Future Subjunctive Is Present Subjunctive

The French present subjunctive is used for both present and future.

Evening light over flower market
John and Tina Reid / Getty Images

Warning: There is no future subjunctive in French. The present subjunctive is used for both present and future. There is no future subjunctive per se. Even if the action is to happen in the future, the present subjunctive is used. However, there is a past subjunctive.

Present Subjunctive is Used for Both Present and Future

In general, the French subjunctive mood is used to express actions or ideas that are subjective or otherwise uncertain: will/wanting, emotion, doubt, possibility, necessity, judgment.

 The key to understanding this mood is to remember that the subjunctive = subjectivity or unreality. 

The 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:

  •  Je veux que tu le fasses.
     I want you to do it. 
  •  Il faut que nous partions.
     It's necessary that we leave. / We have to leave.
  • Il est possible qu'il arrive demain.
    It's possible that he will arrive tomorrow.
  • C'est bon que tu sois prêt à midi.
    It's good that you'll be ready at noon.

Verbs and expressions that express someone's will, an order, a need, a piece of advice, or a desire require the subjunctive:

  • aimer mieux que   to like better / to prefer that
  • commander que   to order that
  • demander que   to ask (someone to do something
  • désirer que   to desire that
  • donner l'ordre que   to order that

Verbs and expressions of emotion or feeling, such as fear, happiness, anger, regret, surprise, or any other sentiments, require the subjunctive:

  • adorer que   to love that
  • aimer que   to like that
  • apprécier que   to appreciate that

Verbs and expressions of doubt, possibility, supposition, and opinion require the subjunctive:

  • accepter que   to accept
  • s'attendre à ce que   to expect
  • détester que   to hate

Certain verbs and expressions take the subjunctive when they are negative or interrogatory because they express uncertainty in the speaker's mind:

  • c'est que   it's that/because
  • connaître (quelqu'un) qui   to know (someone) that
  • croire que   to believe that

A number of French conjunctive phrases require the subjunctive:

  • à moins que*   unless
  • à supposer que   assuming that
  • afin que   so that
  • avant que*   before
  • à condition que   provided that

The subjunctive is required In a subordinate clause with the negative pronouns ne...personne or ne...rien, or the indefinite pronouns quelqu'un or quelque chose:

   Je ne connais personne qui veuille m'aider.   
   I don't know anyone who wants to help me.

   ll n'y a rien que nous puissions faire. 
   There's nothing that we can do.

The subjunctive is optional after main clauses that contain certain adjectives, such as seuluniquepremierprincipaldernier, or any superlative,  It depends on how concrete the speaker feels about what is being said:

   Hélène est la seule personne qui puisse nous aider.
   Hélène is the only person who can help us.
   (Hélène may be the only person I think can help us, but there may be others.)

   Hélène est la seule personne que je vois.
   Hélène is the only person I see.
   (No subjunctive, because I know this for a fact - I only see Hélène.)

Conjugating the Subjunctive Is Relatively Straightforward.

To conjugate all regular verbs ending -ER, -IR, and -RE, as well as some irregular* ones, take the 3rd person plural ils form of the present tense of the verb, drop the -ent ending to find the stem, and add the subjunctive endings:

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

Additional Resources

Introduction to the French Subjunctive
Subjunctive Regular Conjugations 
Irregular Subjunctive Conjugations 
Verb timeline

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
ThoughtCo. "French Grammar Glossary: Future Subjunctive Is Present Subjunctive." ThoughtCo, Feb. 26, 2018, ThoughtCo. (2018, February 26). French Grammar Glossary: Future Subjunctive Is Present Subjunctive. Retrieved from ThoughtCo. "French Grammar Glossary: Future Subjunctive Is Present Subjunctive." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 19, 2018).