The Subjunctive

Every year, the subjunctive instils fear into the hearts and minds of Leaving cert students up and down the country. It shouldn’t! It is only another form of expression. There are a few rules to respect, and the subjunctive is well within the grasp of any student. The key word to look for is the word QUE. If you have certain expressions which take que, then the verb will be in its subjunctive form. Students and teachers have asked me to give a quick synopsis of how and when to use the subjunctive, so here it is:[The subjunctive is not a tense but a mood! It is used to show that an action is viewed with some emotion:

One wants it to happen
One fears it may have happened
One is glad that it has happened
One is not sure or doubtful whether it has happened.

Compare the following:

Je sais qu’elle est malade – I know that she is sick (fact takes indicative mood)
Je regrette qu’elle soit malade – I am sorry that she is sick (emotion takes subjunctive)[/vc_message][vc_column_text]

Full version of Subjunctive available on our Leaving Cert or Teacher plans 

To view our sample Leaving & Junior Cert revision notes, please click on the following links


  • The subjunctive is always used after set phrases and conjunctions
  • It is generally found in subordinate clauses
  • It is generally NOT used if the subject of the main clause is the same as the subject of the subordinate clause (you usually use the infinitive construction in this case : je souhaite pouvoir regarder la télévision cet après-midi.)

How Do I Form The Subjunctive?

To form the subjunctive of a regular verb, take the stem of either the “nous” or the 3rd person plural in the present tense. Drop the –ons or the –ent and add the following endings:

Je > e
Tu > es
Il/elle/on > e
Nous > ions
Vous > iez
Ils/elles > ent

THERE ARE OF COURSE IRREGULAR VERBS! Here are a few, but there are more!

  • ALLER – TO GO : aille, es, e,, allions, alliez, aillent
  • AVOIR : – TO HAVE aie, aies, ait, ayons, ayez, aient
  • ETRE : TO BE sois, sois, soit, soyons, soyez, soient
  • FAIRE : TO DO/MAKE fasse, es, e, fassions, fassiez, fassent

When Do I Use The Subjunctive?

On the grammar section of our website, we have a comprehensive list of every verb and conjunction that takes the subjunctive. Here is the section of important impersonal verbs which take the subjunctive :

  • C’est dommage que – It is a pity that
  • Il est douteux que – It is doubtful that
  • Il est nécessaire que – It is necessary that
  • Il est possible que – It is possible that

Finally, here are a few sample subjunctive sentences for you to use as you wish. Remember that in the Leaving cert, marks are awarded for both language and communication, so it would be ill-advised to use a sentence that doesn’t make sense in the context of your particular writing piece.

Il faut que je réfléchisse aux coûts environnementaux
I need to think about the environmental costs

Il faut que nous puissions dire que certaines choses ne peuvent pas être acceptées dans notre société
We need to be able to say that some things cannot be accepted in our society


French Leaving Cert Revision Courses

French Leaving Cert


If you would be interested in attending one of our French Leaving Cert Revision courses, please follow the link below for more information. All of our monthly courses take place from September to May and are held in Mary Immaculate College, Limerick. Our Courses begin at 1pm and ends at 5pm. The cost is €60 and includes a 30 page booklet with exclusive French Notes content. During our revision courses, students learn how to write opinion pieces, Diary entries and/or the narrative (récit),   learn active listening methodology, practice speaking and reading French comprehensions. They also do Translation exercises and study a specific area of grammar.



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