The subjunctive mood is used to express actions or ideas which are subjective or otherwise uncertain: will/wanting, emotion, doubt, possibility, necessity, judgment. 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.

Je veux que tu le fasses.
I want you to do it.

Il faut que nous partions.
it is necessary that we leave.

The following sections include lists of verbs, expressions, and conjunctions which require the subjunctive in French. They are divided into seven categories to help you remember them.

The subjunctive can seem overwhelming, but the thing to remember is the subjunctive = subjectivity, unreality. That should help you figure it out at least 90% of the time.

NOTE: There is no future subjunctive. Even if the action is to happen in the future, the present subjunctive is used. However, there is a past subjunctive.

Formation of the regular subjunctive--go here for an easy explanation of how to form it.

Key irregular verbs in the subjunctive, plus a review of how the regular subjunctive is formed.

SECTION ONE--Expressions of will - orders, advice, desires

Verbs and expressions which 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

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

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 that

*These verbs are followed by the ne explétif:

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


SECTION TWO--Emotions and feelings

Verbs and expressions of emotion or feeling - 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

avoir honte que to be ashamed that

avoir peur que* to be afraid that

craindre que* to fear that

déplorer que to deplore that

détester que to hate that

être content que to be happy that

être désolé que to be sorry that

être étonné que to be amazed that

être heureux que to be happy that

être surpris que to be surprised that

être triste que to be sad that

il est bizarre que it is odd that

il est bon que it is good that

il est dommage que it is too bad that

il est étonnant que it is amazing that

il est étrange que it is strange that

il est heureux que it is fortunate that

il est honteux que it is shameful that

il est inutile que it is useless that

il est rare que it is rare that

il est regrettable que it is regrettable that

il est surprenant que it is surprising that

il est utile que it is useful that

redouter que* to dread that

regretter que to regret that

se réjouir que to be delighted that

*These verbs are followed by the ne explétif:

Je crains qu'il ne parte.
I'm afraid he'll leave.

SECTION THREE--Doubt, possibility, supposition, and opinion

Verbs and expressions of doubt, possibility, supposition, and opinion

accepter que to accept

s'attendre à ce que to expect

chercher ... qui* to look for

détester que to hate

douter que** to doubt that

il est convenable que it is proper/fitting that

il est douteux que** it is doubtful that

il est faux que it is false that

il est impossible que it is impossible that

il est improbable que it is improbable that

il est juste que it is right/fair that

il est possible que it is possible that

il est peu probable que it is improbable that

il n'est pas certain que it is not certain that

il n'est pas clair que it is not clear that

il n'est pas évident que it is not obvious that

il n'est pas exact que it is not correct that

il n'est pas probable que it is improbable that

il n'est pas sûr que it is not certain that

il n'est pas vrai que it is not true that

il semble que it seems that

il se peut que it may be that

le fait que the fact that

nier que*** to deny that

refuser que to refuse

supposer que to suppose, hypothesize

*When you are looking for someone who may not exist, that indicates doubt and therefore requires the subjunctive:

Je cherche un homme qui sache la vérité.
I'm looking for a man who knows the truth.

**These do not take the subjunctive when they are used negatively:

Je doute qu'il vienne, Je ne doute pas qu'il vient.
I doubt he's coming, I don't doubt he's coming.

***When nier is in the negative, it's followed by the ne explétif:

Il n'a pas nié qu'elle ne soit partie.
He didn't deny that she left.

SECTION FOUR--Expressions that require the subjunctive when used in the negative or interrogative affirmative

The following verbs and expressions do not take the subjunctive when they are used in the affirmative, because they express facts which are considered certain - at least in the speaker's mind. When negative or interrogatory, they require the subjunctive:

c'est que it's that/because

connaître (quelqu'un) qui to know (someone) that

croire que to believe that

dire que to say that

espérer que to hope that

être certain que to be certain that

être sûr que to be sure that

il est certain que it is certain that

il est clair que it is clear/obvious that

il est évident que it is obvious that

il est probable que it is probable that

il est exact que it is correct/true that

il est sûr que it is certain that

il est vrai que it is true that

il me (te, lui...) semble que it seems to me (you, him...) that

il paraît que it appears that

penser que to think that

savoir que to know that

trouver que to find/think that

vouloir dire que to mean that

Penses-tu qu'il soit sympa ? Oui, je pense qu'il est sympa, Non, je ne pense pas qu'il soit sympa.
Do you think he's nice? Yes, I think he's nice. No, I don't think he's nice.


SECTION FIVE--Conjunctions requiring the subjunctive

A number of French conjunctive phrases require the subjunctive:

à condition que provided that

à moins que* unless

à supposer que assuming that

afin que so that

avant que* before

bien que although

de crainte que* for fear that

de façon que so that, in order that, in such a way that

de manière que so that

de peur que* for fear that

de sorte que so that

en admettant que assuming that

en attendant que while, until

encore que even though

jusqu'à ce que until

pour que so that

pourvu que provided that

quoique even though

quoi que whatever, no matter what

sans que* without

*These conjunctions are followed by the ne explétif:

Mangeons avant que nous ne partions.
Let's eat before we leave.

On the other hand, the following conjunctions do not take the subjunctive, because they express facts which are considered certain:

ainsi que just as, so as

alors que while, whereas

après que** after, when

aussitôt que** as soon as

car since, because

en même temps que at the same time that

depuis que since

dès que** as soon as, immediately

lorsque** when

parce que because

pendant que while

plutôt que instead of, rather than

puisque since, as

quand** when

tandis que while, whereas

une fois que** once

**These conjunctions are followed by the future tense in French, even though in English we use the present tense.

Mangeons quand il arrivera.
Let's eat when he arrives.


SECTION SIX--Indefinite situations caused by the use of negative and indefinite pronouns

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.

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

Y a-t-il quelqu'un qui puisse m'aider ?
Is there someone who can help me?

J'aimerais inventer quelque chose qui fasse une différence.
I'd like to invent something that will make a difference.


SECTION SEVEN--Superlative expressions that require the subjunctive in clauses that follow

After main clauses which contain adjectives like principal, seul, unique, premier, dernier, or any superlative, the subjunctive is optional - 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.)

C'est le meilleur livre que j'aie pu trouver.
That's the best book I could find.
(But it's not necessarily the best that exists.)

C'est le meilleur livre que j'ai écrit.
That's the best book I've written.
(I wrote three, and I know for a fact that this is the best one.)