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duration
Il est en prison depuis trois ans = he™s been in prison for three years
starting point
Il est en prison depuis 2002 = he™s been in prison since 2002
Other expressions can be used in the same way to achieve the same value “
Il y a / voila / voici trois ans qu™il est en prison = he™s been in prison for three years
`
When the imperfect tense of a verb is used with depuis, it is equivalent to the English
pluperfect tense “
Je l™´ piais depuis quelques minutes quand son petit ami est arriv´ = I had
e e
been spying on her for some minutes when her boyfriend turned up
Il etait en prison depuis trois ans = he had been in prison for three years
´
Il etait en prison depuis 2002 = he had been in prison since 2002
´
The same expressions as mentioned above can again be used to achieve the same
value “
Il y a / voila / voici trois ans qu™il etait en prison = he had been in prison for three
` ´
years



143 Differences between French and English use of
tenses“3: venir de
3 The case of venir de
Venir de is used to correspond to the English adverb just in such expressions as she has
just arrived, he had just begun.
Where English uses a perfect tense, French uses the present tense of venir de “
Une note con¬dentielle vient d™ˆ tre saisie par la justice = a con¬dential note has
e
just been seized by the police
Il vient d™ˆ tre nomm´ capitaine de l™´ quipe nationale = he has just been appointed
e e e
captain of the national team
Where English uses a pluperfect tense, French uses the imperfect tense of venir de “
Elle venait de recevoir le prix de la meilleure actrice romantique, quand
elle s™est evanouie = she had just received the prize for best romantic actress when she
´
fainted
D´ but septembre, on a eu un peu de pluie, on venait de se dire que l™ann´ e
e e
ne serait pas merveilleuse “ puis le soleil est apparu et tout a muri = it ˆ
rained a little at the beginning of September, we had just said to ourselves that the year wasn™t going to
be that special “ then the sun came out and everything ripened


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A STUDENT GUIDE TO FRENCH GRAMMAR



Subjunctive mood
144 When to use the subjunctive
The subjunctive mood of a verb is used only in certain grammatico-semantic situations.
By ˜grammatico-semantic™ is meant

1 that a particular grammatical situation is required (the subjunctive is only used in
subordinate clauses)
2 that certain types of meanings are expressed by the verb or expression governing the
subordinate clause (eg joy, anger, doubt).

There are also some situations where a choice of indicative or subjunctive mood exists.
These two types of situations will be reviewed and illustrated below.

145 Use of tenses in the subjunctive
In practice only two of the four tenses of the subjunctive are commonly used, the present
and the perfect. The other two tenses, the imperfect and pluperfect, are restricted to very
formal usage and almost exclusively in the written medium. This has implications for the
sequence of tenses.

146 Sequence of tenses in the subjunctive
Because only two tenses are available for use in normal circumstances, the sequence
of tenses involving the subjunctive mood is different from that involving the
indicative.
Present tense “ this may be used in a subordinate clause governed by any tense in the
main clause.
Perfect tense “ this is used to correspond to the perfect, pluperfect, future perfect and
conditional perfect tenses of the indicative mood.

147 Illustration of the sequence of tenses in the subjunctive
Present tense
Il faut qu™elle parte lundi matin = she must leave Monday morning
Il fallait qu™elle parte lundi matin = she had to leave Monday morning
Il faudra qu™elle parte lundi matin = she™ll have to leave Monday morning
Il faudrait qu™elle parte lundi matin = she ought to leave Monday morning
Il a fallu qu™elle parte lundi matin = she had to leave Monday morning
Il fallut qu™elle parte lundi matin = she had to leave Monday morning
Il avait fallu qu™elle parte lundi matin = she had had to leave Monday morning
Il aura fallu qu™elle parte lundi matin = she™ll have had to leave Monday morning
Il aurait fallu qu™elle parte lundi mtin = she would have had to leave Monday morning

Perfect tense
Je ne crois pas qu™elle soit partie = I don™t believe she left

68
148 Clauses introduced by conjunctive



Je ne croyais pas qu™elle soit partie = I didn™t believe she had left
Il est arriv´ avant qu™elle soit partie = he arrived before she left
e
Il etait arriv´ avant qu™elle soit partie = he had arrived before she left
´ e
`
A moins qu™elle ne soit partie, il ne serait pas venu = unless she had left, he would
not have come


Grammatical circumstances requiring the subjunctive
148 In clauses introduced by a conjunctive expression
The expressions may be grouped in the following way according to their meanings “


although (see 457) “
bien que
Bien que j™aie 40 ans, je viens de rencontrer l™homme de mes rˆ ves =
e
although I™m forty, I™ve just met the man of my dreams
encore que
`
Encore que vous soyez mal a l™aise dans la compagnie des hommes, vous
allez souvent vers eux = although you™re uncomfortable in men™s company, you
often seek them out
malgr´ que
e
Malgr´ qu™elle sache que la nourriture est trop grasse, elle c` de aux d´ sirs
e e e
de ses enfants de manger le fast-food = although she knows that the food is too fatty, she
gives in to her children™s wish to eat fast-food
Malgr´ que tu sois naturelle, vous gardez encore quelques mauvais
e
r´ ¬‚exes = despite the fact you™re natural, you hang on to a few bad reactions
e
quoique
Quoique nous pr´ f´ rions rester au lit le matin, il faut savoir que c™est vers
ee
6 ou 7 heures que le taux de testost´ rone, qui favorise le d´ veloppement
e e
des muscles, est le plus elev´ = although we prefer staying in bed in the morning, we need to
´e
realise that it™s around 6 or 7 o™clock that the level of testosterone, which promotes muscle development, is
at its highest
When this group of conjunctive expressions refer to future time, the future tense is
used “
Quoique l™agence b´ n´ ¬ciera de ce statut dans deux ans, pour le moment
ee
elle doit se contenter de la situation actuelle = although the agency will bene¬t
from this status in a couple of years™ time, for the moment it will have to put up with the present
situation


before (see 465)
avant que
Retrempez-les une heure, avant que la sauce soit pr´ par´ e = soak them for
e e
another hour before the sauce is prepared

69
A STUDENT GUIDE TO FRENCH GRAMMAR



Avant que Paul soit sorti de ma vie, je n™avais jamais l™occasion de
rencontrer de nouvelles personnes = before Paul walked out of my life, I never had the
chance to meet new people
The verb in the subjunctive may optionally be preceded by an ˜expletive™ ne, which adds
nothing to the meaning “ the presence of the ne suggests a higher register of language “
Quatre jours avant que l™invasion n™ait eu lieu, les pilotes pr´ paraient
e
leurs helicopt` res pour une guerre acharn´ e = four days before the invasion took
e e
place, the pilots were preparing their helicopters for a bitter war


for fear that
de crainte que
Again the verb in the subjunctive may optionally be preceded by an ˜expletive™ ne,
which adds nothing to the meaning “ the presence of the ne suggests a higher register of
language (see 417) “
`
Ceux qui sont hostiles a une telle loi, le sont de crainte qu™il n™y ait une
eclosion d™´ coles que l™Etat ne pourra pas controler = those who are opposed to
´ ˆ
e
such a law are so for fear that there may be a proliferation of schools the State will not be able to
control
`
Vous regardez le plat de pr` s, de crainte qu™il ne soit pas du tout a votre
e
gout = you look at the dish closely, for fear that it isn™t to your taste
ˆ
de peur que
The same remarks apply here as to de crainte que
De peur que le r´ gime artistique soit supprim´ , je resterai directeur = for
e e
fear that the artistic r´gime may be discontinued, I shall stay on as director
e


however little
pour autant que
Pour autant qu™il vous ait tromp´ e, vous avez raison de rompre avec lui =
e
however little he may have cheated on you, you™re right to ¬nish with him
pour peu que
´
Pour peu que nous regardions la t´ l´ vision, nous ne pouvons pas eviter son
ee
in¬‚uence = however little we watch television, we cannot escape its in¬‚uence


in order that, so that (see 460)
a¬n que
A¬n que vous soyez epargn´ le stress, respirez profond´ ment et . . . riez =
´ e e
in order to be spared stress, breathe deeply and . . . laugh
`
de facon que / de facon a ce que
¸ ¸
` `
Je crois qu™a ce moment-la j™avais besoin de me d´ culpabiliser, de facon
e ¸
que je me puisse me convaincre que je le faisais pour le bien-ˆ tre de notre e
couple = I think that at that moment I needed to set aside any guilt so that I could convince myself
that I was doing it for the bene¬t of the two of us

70
148 Clauses introduced by conjunctive



`
De facon que l™int´ rˆ t qu™il porte a ce sujet soit manifest´ clairement, il a
¸ ee e
d´ cid´ de faire un discours t´ l´ vis´ = so that his interest in this subject may be clearly
ee ee e
shown, he decided to make a speech on television
e`
de mani` re que / de mani` re a ce que
e
`
Portez les lunettes a verres fum´ s, de mani` re qu™elles vous fassent un
e e
look d™enfer = wear tinted glasses so that they give you a fabulous look
de sorte que
De sorte que vous puissiez avoir une soir´ e entre amis dans une ambiance
e
chaude, il n™y a qu™une seule adresse = so that you can have an evening among friends in
a warm atmosphere, there™s just one address
pour que
La Ministre de la Recherche redouble d™efforts pour que le site de
Cadarache soit pr´ f´ r´ a celui propos´ par les Japonais = the Minister of Research
ee e` e
is redoubling her efforts so that the Cadarache site is preferred to the one proposed by the Japanese
Bruxelles attendait ses rajustements pour qu™il se mette en conformit´ e
avec les prescriptions de la Commission = Brussels waited for him to make some
readjustments so that he would be in conformity with the Commission™s prescriptions
In the case of de facon que, de mani` re que and de sorte que, the subjunctive is
¸ e
used to express intention, not result. For examples of these expressions conveying result,
when the indicative, not the subjunctive, is used, see 459.
` e`
De facon a ce que and de mani` re a ce que are replacing the shorter forms.
¸

not that
non que / non pas que
Elle pr´ f` re rester chez elle, non qu™elle ait peur de sortir = she prefers to stay at
ee
home, not that she™s afraid of going out
On dit que la femme francaise consomme 8, 2 paires de collants chaque
¸
ann´ e et l™homme 4, 1 slips “ non que je sache si c™est vrai ou non! = they say
e
that a French woman gets through 8.2 pairs of tights a year and a man 4.1 pairs of underpants “ not
that I know if it™s right or not!

provided that
`
a condition que
`
Le syndicalisme fait partie du paysage social, a condition que l™Etat se
fasse respecter = trade unionism is part of the social fabric, provided that the State succeeds in
making itself respected
pourvu que
Pourvu que tu sois la a dix-neuf heures, je peux te conduire a la gare =
`` `
provided you™re there at 7 o™clock, I™ll give you a lift to the station
sous r´ serve que
e
Il acceptait de le reconnaˆtre sous r´ serve qu™il n™y ait pas de cons´ quences
± e e
d´ sagr´ ables = he was prepared to admit it provided there were no unpleasant consequences
e e


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A STUDENT GUIDE TO FRENCH GRAMMAR



supposing that (see 458)
`
a suppos´ que
e
`
A suppos´ que vous vouliez consulter des bandes-annonces, des critiques
e
cin´ -dvd, faites un petit tour sur M6.fr = supposing you want to consult banner
e
announcements, ¬lm and dvd crits, take a stroll through M6.fr
supposant que
Deux ex-fumeurs sur trois rechutent “ supposant que vous vouliez tenir,
suivez ce conseil = two out of three ex-smokers relapse “ supposing you want to persevere, take
this advice
suppos´ que
e
Suppos´ que tu aies raison, je n™ose lui ecrire = supposing you™re right, I daren™t write
´
e
to her

unless (see 458)
`
a moins que
In formal circumstances, ne is inserted before the verb; this ne has no real semantic
value, but underlines the uncertain nature of the assertion (see 417).
`
Elles parlent d™une peau plus lisse, plus raffermie, a moins qu™elles ne
soient victimes d™une campagne de publicit´ irr´ sistible = they speak of a
e e
smoother, ¬rmer skin “ unless they™re victims of an irresistible advertising campaign
`
Il doit trouver un nouveau partenaire, a moins que les Am´ ricains ne e
ra¬‚ent la mise = he™s got to ¬nd a new partner, unless the Americans snap up the bait

until (see 465)
`
jusqu™a ce que
`
Jusqu™a ce qu™il y ait des tests antidopage plus probants, les athl` tes e
continueront d™abuser du syst` me = until there are more conclusive antidrugs tests,
e
athletes will continue to abuse the system
`
Respirez doucement jusqu™a ce que votre respiration devienne plus
r´ guli` re = breathe gently until your breathing becomes more regular
e e
Sometimes ne . . . que is used as an equivalent to English until (see 425) “
Ils ne prendront la ville d™assaut que lorsqu™ils seront certains que les
civils l™ont quitt´ e = they won™t attack the town until they™re sure the civilians have left
e

whether . . . or (see 458)
soit que . . . ou / soit que or que . . . ou “ see que below
Soit que tu viennes chez moi ou que je vienne te chercher chez toi, nous
aurons assez de temps = whether you come to my house or I come to yours, we™ll have enough
time
`
Soit que vous perciez votre nombril vous-mˆ me, soit que vous demandiez a
e
une amie de le faire, c™est toujours dangereux = whether you pierce your navel yourself
or ask a friend to do it, it™s still dangerous
Que ce soit vrai ou non, je vais continuer = whether it™s true or not, I™m going to carry on

72
149 Clauses depending on emotion



Qu™il s™agisse de votre vie amoureuse ou de vos liens amicaux, des tensions
sont a craindre = whether it™s a matter of your love life or your friendships, tensions are
`
inevitable
Qu™il soit blanc ou noir n™a aucune importance = whether he™s white or black has no
importance whatsoever


while waiting for
en attendant que
En attendant que le docteur nous dise s™il y avait un probl` me, mon oncle e
a quitt´ son cabinet = while waiting for the doctor to tell us if there was a problem, my uncle
e
walked out of the surgery
Vous devenez impatiente en attendant qu™il vous appelle = you™re becoming
impatient waiting for him to give you a ring


without
sans que
Il a continu´ de se droguer sans qu™on s™en soit remarqu´ = he continued taking
e e
drugs without anyone noticing
Les tics pompent beaucoup d™´ nergie, sans que l™on s™en rende compte =
e
tics demand a lot of energy, without us realising it
La compagnie a pos´ des conditions d´ mentes “ une publication en
e e
aveugle, sans mˆ me que l™´ diteur francais puisse voir les photos = the
e e ¸
company set some crazy conditions “ a blind publication, without the French publisher even being able to
see the pictures


149 In clauses depending upon a verb or expression
conveying an emotion
Agreement / permission
after consentir = to consent, permettre = to allow, refuser = to refuse
L™arbitre a permis que le jeu soit diff´ r´ a cause de la neige = the referee allowed
ee`
the game to be postponed because of the snow
Elle a refus´ qu™on vende ses peintures = she refused to let anyone sell her paintings
e

Anxiety / anticipation
after attendre = to wait, s™attendre (a ce que) = to expect, veiller (a ce que) = to
` `
make sure
`
On s™attend a ce que ce PDG hors norme devienne symbole d™une r´ gion e
industrielle qui r´ ussit dans le secteur des technologies de pointe = it is to be
e
expected that this exceptional managing director will become the symbol of an industrial region
successful in the advanced technology sector
Veillez a ce que les enfants ne rentrent pas trop tard = make sure the children don™t
`
come back too late

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A STUDENT GUIDE TO FRENCH GRAMMAR



Command / request
after commander = to order, demander = to ask, to demand, exiger = to demand, insister
(pour que) = to insist, ordonner = to order
Ayant exig´ que les recommandations soient vot´ es, le pr´ sident a pass´
e e e e
au prochain point de l™ordre du jour = having required that the recommendations be voted
upon, the chairman passed on to the next item on the agenda
`
Il a insist´ pour que le transport alternatif ne soit utilis´ qu™a titre
e e
exceptionnel = he insisted that alternative transport should only be used in exceptional
circumstances
´e
J™ai et´ si surprise que je ne demandais mˆ me pas qu™il le fasse encore une
e
fois = I was so surprised that I didn™t even ask him to do it again

Desire
after aimer = to like, avoir envie = to want, d´ sirer = to desire, pr´ f´ rer = to prefer,
e ee
souhaiter = to wish, tenir (a ce que) = to want, vouloir = to want
`
Il a pr´ f´ r´ que le club renonce a cette rupture avec la tradition = he preferred
`
ee e
the club to abandon this break with tradition
Je souhaite qu™elle lance une campagne en faveur des parents pauvres qui
el` vent seuls leurs enfants = my wish is that she will launch a campaign in favour of poor
´e
parents who bring up their children alone
Il veut que ce soit elle qui fasse le premier pas = he wants her to be the one who
makes the ¬rst move

Fear / anger
after avoir peur = to be afraid, craindre = to fear, de crainte = for fear, de peur = for fear,
etre embˆ tant = to be annoying, etre fach´ = to be angry, etre honteux = to be
ˆ ˆ ˆe ˆ
e
disgraceful, etre m´ content = to be unhappy, s™indigner = to become indignant, redouter
ˆ e
= to fear
In the case of those verbs expressing fear, like the linked conjunctive expressions de
crainte que, de peur que, the verb in the subjunctive may optionally be preceded by
an ˜expletive™ ne, which adds nothing to the meaning “ the presence of the ne suggests
a higher register of language (see 417).
Il avait peur que son equipe ne soit elimin´ e de la comp´ tition = he was afraid
´ ´ e e
that his team would be eliminated from the competition
Il est embˆ tant que les technologies avanc´ es aient de temps en temps
e e
men´ a une perte d™´ l´ gance = it™s annoying that advances in technology have from time to
e` ee
time led to a loss in elegance
J™avais un peu peur qu™elle fasse des comparaisons et qu™elle nous mette
des notes = I was afraid that she would make comparisons and give us marks
Pleasure
after etre content = to be happy, etre heureux = to be happy, etre ravi = to be delighted,
ˆ ˆ ˆ
etre satisfait = to be satis¬ed, se f´ liciter = to congratulate yourself, se r´ jouir = to be
ˆ e e
delighted

74
150 Clauses conveying avoiding, etc.



Je suis contente que cet appareil te convienne = I™m pleased that this camera suits you
Elle s™est r´ jouie que les gendarmes l™aient arrˆ t´ sur pr´ somption de
e ee e
viol = she was delighted that the police had arrested him on suspicion of rape
Nous sommes ravis qu™il ait pass´ son permis poids lourd a¬n d™emmener
e
ses chevaux aux concours d™´ quitation = we™re delighted he™s taken his heavy vehicle
e
licence test so as to be able to drive his horses to the horse trials

Sadness
after etre d´ sol´ = to be sorry, etre triste = to be sad, se plaindre = to complain,
ˆ ˆ
ee
regretter = to be sorry
Je suis d´ sol´ que tu ne puisses pas venir ce soir = I™m sorry that you can™t come this
ee
evening
Elle s™est plainte qu™une minorit´ de spectateurs ait toujours exig´ plus de
e e
violence = she complained that a minority of viewers always demanded more violence
Je regrette profond´ ment qu™elle ait refus´ de me donner son adresse = I
e e
deeply regret that she refused to give me her address

Surprise
after s™´ tonner = to be astonished, etre choqu´ = to be shocked, etre surpris = to be
ˆ ˆ
e e
surprised
Je m™´ tonne que tu n™aies pas r´ ussi a ce test = I™m astonished you failed that test
`
e e
Cela ne me surprend pas que ces innovations aient eu l™effet d™une bombe
dans ce secteur conservateur = I™m not surprised that these innovations have had the effect
of a bomb in that conservative area
J™´ tais choqu´ qu™elle ait mis son pied nu sur mon entrejambe = I was shocked
e e
that she put her bare foot on my inner thigh

150 In clauses depending upon a verb or expression
conveying avoiding, chance, denial, evaluation, forbidding,
(im)possibility, improbability, necessity, uncertainty
Avoiding
after empˆ cher = to prevent, eviter = to avoid
´
e
Beaucoup de choses vous int´ ressent, mais vous devez empˆ cher qu™elles
e e
veuillent vous maˆtriser = lots of things interest you, but you have to avoid them wanting to
±
dominate you
Pour eviter que la discussion devienne trop houleuse, il est parti furieux =
´
in order to prevent the discussion from becoming too agitated, he stormed out

Chance
after il arrive = it happens, il n™y a aucune chance = there™s no chance, il y a de grandes
chances = there™s every chance, il y a le danger = there™s the danger, risquer = to take the
risk

75
A STUDENT GUIDE TO FRENCH GRAMMAR



Il arrive de temps en temps que je me sente en faveur de l™euthanasie = there
are times when I feel in favour of euthanasia
Il arrive parfois que ma copine soit de bonne humeur le matin “ je suis
euphorique pour toute la journ´ e = it sometimes happens that my girlfriend is in a good
e
mood in the morning “ I feel over the moon all day long
Il y a de grandes chances que le rhinoc´ ros disparaisse dans quelques
e
d´ cennies = the chances are high that rhinoceroses will disappear in a few decades
e

Denial
after nier = to deny
La police a ni´ que la victime n™ait port´ qu™un pied de table et non un fusil
e e
= the police denied that the victim was just carrying a table leg and not a ri¬‚e
Elle a surpris tout le monde en niant qu™elle veuille rester vierge jusqu™au
mariage = she surprised everybody by denying that she wanted to remain a virgin till she was
married

Evaluation
after a large number of impersonal expressions “ il y a int´ rˆ t (a ce que) = it™s a good
ee `
idea, il/c™est dommage = it™s a shame, peu importe = it scarcely matters, ce n™est pas
la peine = it™s not worth the effort, il est bon = it™s worthwhile, il est curieux = it™s strange,
il est important = it™s important, il est juste = it™s fair, il est normal = it™s normal, il
est paradoxal = it™s paradoxical, il est pr´ f´ rable = it™s preferable, il est rare = it™s rare,
ee
il semble = it seems
´e
Peu importe que le spectacle ait et´ annul´ “ cela ne m™int´ ressait pas du
e e
tout = it didn™t matter that the show was cancelled “ I wasn™t interested anyway
Il est important que la compagnie trouve un second souf¬‚e = it™s important for
the company to get a second wind
Il est rare que quelqu™un puisse dire que personne ne l™a jamais aim´ = it™s
e
rare for anyone to be able to say that no one has ever loved them
Note that when an indirect object is involved with il semble (= it seems to . . .), the
indicative mood is used “
Il semble qu™on ait propos´ trop d™activit´ s extrascolaires aux enfants = it
e e
seems that children have had too many extracurricular activities suggested to them
Il me semble que certains sports sont susceptibles de mieux correspondre
a son temp´ rament que d™autres = it seems to me that certain sports are likely to
` e
correspond better to her temperament than others

Forbidding
after d´ fendre = to forbid, interdire = to ban
e
Il avait d´ fendu que sa ¬lle aille aux boˆtes de nuit = he had banned his daughter
e ±
from going to nightclubs


76
150 Clauses conveying avoiding, etc.



(Im)possibility and improbability
after a large number of impersonal expressions “ il y a opportunit´ = the opportunity
e
exists, il est (im)possible = it™s (im)possible, il est improbable = it™s unlikely, il est
inadmissible = it™s unacceptable, il est invraisemblable = it™s unlikely, il se peut =
it™s possible, il est peu probable = it™s unlikely
D` s qu™il a bu un coup de trop, il se peut qu™il soit m´ connaissable,
e e
incontrolable = after he™s drunk a bit too much, it™s possible that he™s unrecognisable, uncontrollable
ˆ
´ e`
Il n™est pas impossible qu™il ait pass´ discr` tement et ait echapp´ a notre
e e
surveillance = it™s not impossible that he passed by discreetly and avoided our surveillance
Il est peu probable que nous gagnions le match samedi = it™s unlikely that we™ll
win the match on Saturday
Although il est peu probable is followed by the subjunctive, il est probable = it™s
probable / probably is not “
Il est probable qu™on trouvera un m´ dicament qui permettra de prolonger
e
la dur´ e de vie de patients atteints d™un cancer de la prostate = they will
e
probably ¬nd a cure which will allow patients suffering from prostate cancer to prolong their lives

Necessity
after a large number of impersonal expressions “ il est essentiel = it™s essential, il est
imp´ ratif = it™s imperative, il est in´ vitable = it™s inevitable, il est naturel = it™s natural,
e e
il est n´ cessaire = it™s necessary, il est temps = it™s time, il faut = it™s necessary, il s™en
e
faut de peu = within a little
Il est essentiel que la coque du bateau soit modi¬´ e apr` s son retour de
e e
l™Australie = it™s essential for the boat™s hull to be modi¬ed after its return from Australia
Il faut que vous vous interrogiez sur les raisons de votre d´ pendance = you
e
must question yourself about the reasons for your dependency
Il est temps que vous consid´ riez la possibilit´ de vous remarier = it™s time
e e
you considered the possibility of remarriage

Uncertainty
after a large number of impersonal expressions “ il n™est pas certain = it™s not certain,
il est douteux = it™s doubtful, il semble = it seems (but see Evaluation above), il
n™est pas sur = it™s not sure, il n™est pas vrai = it™s not true, douter = to doubt “ and
ˆ
the following verbs when used negatively and/or interrogatively “ af¬rmer = to af¬rm,
croire = to believe, dire = to say, penser = to think, trouver = to ¬nd
Il n™avait jamais pens´ qu™il aille falloir voter une loi contre le
e
vagabondage = he had never thought that it would be necessary to pass a law against vagrancy
Quoique la f´ d´ ration de foot ait poursuivi le d´ pistage sanguin, il n™est
ee e
pas vrai qu™elle ait aussi r´ alis´ des tests urinaires = although the football
e e
federation undertook blood tests, it is not true that it undertook urine tests as well
Je ne crois pas que ces rumeurs soient vraies = I don™t believe the rumours are true


77
A STUDENT GUIDE TO FRENCH GRAMMAR



With expressions like il n™y a pas de doute que = there™s no doubt that, which imply
certainty, the indicative mood is used “
`
Il n™y a pas de doute que vous encouragerez son initiative en r´ pondant a e
son sourire = there™s no doubt that you™ll encourage her initiative if you respond to her smile

151 In relative clauses depending upon a superlative formed
with plus or moins
C™est le projet le plus ambitieux que l™universit´ ait entrepris = it™s the most
e
ambitious project the university has undertaken
´
Les lettres qu™elle m™a ecrites sont les plus tendres que j™aie jamais
recues = the letters she wrote me are the most loving ones I™ve ever received
¸
C™est le moins qu™on puisse dire = it™s the least you can say
The situation is less clear-cut with other types of superlative “ see 155.


152 In noun clauses introduced by le fait que or que alone
Le fait que le Pr´ sident ait dit non aux Am´ ricains donne a penser = the fact
`
e e
that the President said no to the Americans gives food for thought
ˆ
Le fait qu™il n™y ait peu ou pas d™impot sur les fortunes attire beaucoup de
Francais en Suisse = the fact that there is little or no wealth tax attracts a good many French to
¸
Switzerland
Que les c´ l´ brit´ s veuillent rester anonymes autant que possible est bien
ee e
connu = it™s well known that celebs want to stay anonymous as much as possible
Que vous ayez gagn´ etait une grande surprise pour tout le monde = that you

won was a great surprise for everyone


153 In clauses depending upon a range of inde¬nite
expressions, equivalent to English words ending in “ever “
pronouns whoever, whatever, adjective whatever, adverbs
however, wherever
(See 457.)

qui que = whoever, anyone
ˆ ˆ
qui que is normally used in conjunction with etre; if a verb other than etre is required,
the expression qui que ce soit is used as subject or object or after a preposition,
followed by qui + the required verb in the subjunctive mood, as appropriate “
Qui que vous soyez = whoever you are
Il d´ ¬e qui que ce soit de descendre cette piste = he challenges anyone to go down that
e
piste
Qui que ce soit qui t´ l´ phone, dis-lui que je suis sortie = whoever phones, tell them
ee
I™ve gone out

78
153 Clauses with inde¬nite expressions



J™ai envoy´ cette photo pour qui que ce soit qui l™appr´ cie = I™ve sent this photo
e e
for whoever will appreciate it
An alternative to qui que is quiconque which is used with the indicative and not the
subjunctive mood “
Quiconque a dit cela est fou = whoever said that is stupid
Dis a quiconque veut ecouter que les tarifs seront r´ duits ce soir = tell anyone
` ´ e
who wants to listen that prices are going to be reduced this evening
Il sait cela mieux que quiconque = he knows that better than anyone

quoi qui / quoi que = whatever, pronoun
ˆ
As with qui que, quoi qui / quoi que is normally used in conjunction with etre; if a
ˆ
verb other than etre is required, the expression quoi que ce soit is used as subject “
but not object, when other verbs may be combined with it “
Quoi qu™il en soit = be that as it may
Quoi que ce soit qui vous enerve, essayez de rester calme = whatever gets on your
´
nerves, try to stay calm
Quoi que tu fasses, prenez des vitamines = whatever you do, take vitamins
Quoi que tu dises, il n™en demeure pas moins que . . . = whatever you say, the fact
remains that . . .
Sur quoi que ce soit que tu t™appuies = whatever you rely on
The following expressions are very common “
Quoi qu™il arrive / quoi qui se passe = whatever happens
If it occurs in a negative expression, quoi que ce soit = anything
Tu ne peux pas lui dire quoi que ce soit = you can™t tell her anything

quelque que = whatever, adjective
There are two possible constructions “
ˆ `
Quelques vetements que tu portes, tu me sembles toujours tr es
ˆ
Quels que soient les vetements que tu portes, sexy =
whatever clothes you wear, you always look sexy to me
In the ¬rst instance quelque is written as a single word, precedes the noun and agrees
with it in number (it is invariable for gender).
ˆ
In the second instance, it is combined with etre (as happens with qui que and
quoi que), is written as two words, quel + que, and quel agrees in number and
gender “

Quelles que soient les pi eces que tu 
`
tu en trouveras dans notre
´`
pr ef eres,
 theatre =
´ˆ
` ´`
Quelques pi eces que tu pr ef eres,
whatever plays you prefer, you™ll ¬nd some in our theatre

79
A STUDENT GUIDE TO FRENCH GRAMMAR



ˆ
Les militaires doivent toujours etre disponibles quelles que soient les
circonstances = soldiers must always be available whatever the circumstances

quelque = however
quelque occurs as a single word before an adjective which it quali¬es and, because it is
an adverb, it is invariable in number and gender “
Quelque dur qu™il travaille, il ne semble jamais apprendre quoi que ce soit
= however hard he works, he never seems to learn anything
Quelque riches qu™ils soient, ils ne veulent jamais donner de l™argent aux
oeuvres caritatives = however rich they are, they never want to make a donation to a charity
There are a number of alternatives to this adverbial usage of quelque “
si, pour, aussi, tout
Si / pour / aussi s´ duisant que cela puisse paraˆtre, il vaut mieux
e ±
l™´ viter = however attractive it may appear, it™s better to avoid it
e
La passion, toute amoureuse qu™elle se pr´ tende, ne naˆt pas de l™idylle pas
e ±
plus qu™elle n™y conduit pas = passion, however loving it may be, does not develop from an
idyll any more than it leads to one
It is worthwhile comparing the following examples which show the varying forms and
usages of quelque / quel que “

Quelque dif¬cult´ que nous rencontrions 
e 

Quelle que soit la dif¬cult´ e nous avons l™intention de
 perseverer =
´´
Quelles que soient les dif¬cult´ s e 

Quelque dif¬cile que ce soit
however dif¬cult it is, we intend persevering

ou que = wherever, anywhere
`
`
Ou que tu ailles, je te suivrai dans mon coeur = wherever you go I™ll follow you in my
heart
`
Ou que tu caches ce magazine, je le trouverai = wherever you hide that magazine, I™ll
¬nd it
Instead of using ou que in this way, partout ou + indicative mood may be used “
` `
`
Partout ou tu vas, je te suivrai dans mon coeur = anywhere you go, I™ll follow you in
my heart
`
For usage with n™importe qui / quoi / quel / ou “ see 246, 457.

Grammatical circumstances where the subjunctive may
be used

154 Optional subjunctive
In the previous sets of cases, the use of the subjunctive mood was obligatory. However,
there are also a number of other sets of circumstances where its use is optional. Whether
to use the subjunctive or not in these circumstances is largely a matter of style “ the more

80
156 Situations where subjunctive is optional



formal the style adopted by the speaker, the more likely it is that the subjunctive mood
will be used; the more informal the style adopted, the more likely it is that the indicative
mood rather than the subjunctive will be used.


155 In clauses depending upon a superlative not formed
with plus or moins and upon such expressions as dernier,
premier, seul
informal
C™est le meilleur / le pire magazine pour jeunes que je connais = it™s the best /
worst young persons™ magazine I know
C™est la derni` re fois que je te le dis = it™s the last time I tell you
e
C™est le premier certi¬cat qu™elle a recu = it™s the ¬rst certi¬cate she™s received
¸
J™ai l™intention de vivre au maximum la seule vie que j™ai = I intend living the
only life I have to the full

formal
C™est la meilleure pi` ce de th´ atre que j™aie jamais vue = it™s the best play I™ve

e
ever seen
´e e e
La r´ union a et´ pr´ sid´ e par la derni` re personne que j™eusse rˆ v´ e d™y
e e ee
trouver = the meeting was chaired by the last person I imagined ¬nding there
´
C™est la seule chose qu™elle ait entendue parmi tous les bruits qui etaient
cri´ s autour d™elle = it™s the only thing she heard amongst all the noises shouted around her
e


156 Other situations where the subjunctive is optional
There are a few verbs with which the use of the subjunctive is optional. This especially
involves verbs that are used negatively or interrogatively (see 149, 150). The deciding
factor is whether the proposition in the subordinate clause is seen as hypothetical or
depending upon a subjective interpretation of the proposition, or whether it is seen as
real or actual. In the former case, the subjunctive mood is used; in the latter, the indicative.
Verbs coming under this heading are “
accepter = to accept, admettre = to admit, comprendre = to understand, concevoir =
to conceive, envisager = to envisage, expliquer = to explain, voir = to see
J™admets qu™il est beaucoup plus intelligent que moi = I admit he™s a lot more
intelligent than me
Admettons qu™elle ait ¬ni son travail, cela n™excuse pas son manque
d™attention = admitting she™s ¬nished her work, that™s no excuse for not paying attention
Elle comprenait que la possibilit´ de poursuivre sa carri` re choisie
e e
d´ pendait de son application au travail = she understood that the possibility of pursuing
e
her chosen career depended on her application to work
Je ne comprends pas que tu puisses parler a ta m` re comme ca = I don™t
` e ¸
understand how you can talk to your mother like that

81
A STUDENT GUIDE TO FRENCH GRAMMAR



On voit que le d´ cor politique ne s™´ claircit gu` re = we can see that the political
e e e
scene scarcely gets any clearer
Ou voyez-vous la-dedans que la R´ publique tienne son rang? = where do you see
` ` e
in that action that the Republic preserves its reputation?
The subjunctive mood is not usually used in a relative clause following the inde¬nite arti-
cle. When, however, the sense of the proposition is less than fully certain, the subjunctive
mood may be used to underline this “
Il a besoin d™un m´ decin qui comprend les allergies = he needs a doctor who
e
understands allergies (and there is such a doctor)
Il a besoin d™un m´ decin qui comprenne les allergies = he needs a doctor who
e
understands allergies (and such a doctor may not exist)
Coucher pour coucher “ non! Je n™ai pas rencontr´ d™homme qui en vaille
e
la peine! Je patiente = to sleep with someone for the sake of it “ no. I™ve not met a man who™s
worth the trouble. I™m waiting
Elle m™a dit qu™elle a besoin d™un homme qui puisse satisfaire ses rˆ ves “ e
et ce ne sera pas moi = she told me that she needs a man who can satisfy her dreams “ and it™s
not me


157 Use with apres que
`
Apr` s que is normally followed by a verb in the indicative mood in the subordinate
e
clause. However, the subjunctive mood is also found (see 465) “
´e
Apr` s que le patient a et´ trait´ pour la d´ pression, il ne faut pas perdre de
e e e
vue ses besoins a long terme = after the patient has been treated for depression, it™s
`
important not to lose sight of his long-term needs
Trois mois apr` s qu™elle ait accouch´ de son premier b´ b´ , son partenaire
e e ee
l™a quitt´ e = three months after she had given birth to her ¬rst child, her partner left her
e
Je change la liti` re du chat imm´ diatement apr` s qu™il y ait pass´ = I change
e e e e
the cat™s litter tray immediately after it™s used it


158 Pluperfect subjunctive equivalent to conditional perfect
Sometimes in formal circumstances, sometimes ironically, sometimes in semi-¬xed con-
structions, the pluperfect subjunctive is used as an alternative to the conditional perfect
“ this occurs most frequently in the third person singular, only rarely elsewhere “
`
On a promen´ le vieux porte-avions d™un bout a l™autre de la M´ diterran´ e
e e e
comme on eut fait d™un p´ trolier pourri = they™ve dragged the old aircraft carrier from
ˆ e
one end of the Med. to another as they would have done with a rusty tanker
ˆ ˆ
Qui l™eut dit, qui l™eut cru, que la question du voile nous bassinerait
jusqu™a faire sortir quelques fantomes des placards de l™Histoire? = who
` ˆ
would have said, who would have thought that the issue of the [Islamic] veil would come to raise ghosts
from the cupboards of History?


82
160 devoir



ˆ
Qui eut cru que le modeste th´ est l™une des meilleures boissons pour la
e
sant´ ? = who would have thought that unassuming tea is one of the best drinks from the health point
e
of view?


Modal verbs

159 De¬nition of a modal verb
Modal verbs constitute a set of verbs that express a variety of attitudes concerning events
and the participants in those events “ obligation, permission, possibility, probability. In
English such verbs as can, may, must, should, ought belong to this set of verbs.
In French, the verbs involved are “ devoir = to have to, pouvoir = to be able to, savoir
= to know how to, vouloir = to want to.
A major problem for English speakers is discovering the correlation between English
modal verbs and their French equivalents. The principal reason for this is that English
modal verbs are frequently anomalous in the formation of their tenses.

160 devoir
Equivalent to English must, have to, ought, should, devoir expresses moral certainty, prob-
ability, intention, obligation “
il doit = he must, he has to
`
Il peut arriver qu™apr` s une fausse couche, les femmes aient plus de mal a
e
ˆ
concevoir car le corps comme le mental doivent etre prˆ ts = it can happen that,
e
after a miscarriage, women ¬nd it harder to conceive, because their body as well as their mental state has
to be ready = obligation
Vous devez penser qu™il est all´ trop loin = you must think he™s gone too far =
e
probability
Je dois etre en retard = I must be late = probability
ˆ
Il doit etre parti a dix-huit heures = he must have / probably left at 6 o™clock =
ˆ `
obligation
Il doit partir a dix-huit heures = he must / has to / has got to leave at 6 o™clock =
`
intention
Il doit etre parti a dix-huit heures = he must be gone by 6 o™clock = obligation
ˆ `

il devait = he used to, he had to, he was to, he must have
` `
Il devait partir a dix-huit heures chaque soir pour arriver chez lui a vingt
heures = he had to / used to leave at 6 o™clock every evening to get home by 8
Il devait partir a dix-huit heures, mais hier il a chang´ de routine = he was to
` e
leave [or = was in the habit of leaving] at 6 o™clock, but yesterday he changed his routine
Il devait etre fatigu´ quand il a eu l™accident = he must have been tired when he had
ˆ e
the accident


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A STUDENT GUIDE TO FRENCH GRAMMAR



il a du = he must have, he had to
ˆ
Il a du partir a dix-huit heures, mais il n™est pas rentr´ = he must have left at
ˆ ` e
6 o™clock, but he didn™t come home
Il a du ¬nir sa r´ daction avant de partir = he had to ¬nish his essay before leaving
ˆ e
Il n™a pas du comprendre = he must not have understood (= he probably did not understand)
ˆ

il devra = he will have to
Il devra ¬nir sa r´ daction avant de partir = he™ll have to ¬nish his essay before leaving
e

il devrait = he should, he ought to
Il devrait ¬nir sa r´ daction avant de partir = he ought to / should ¬nish his essay
e
before leaving

il avait du = he must have, he had had to
ˆ
Il avait du ¬nir sa r´ daction avant de partir = he had had / must have to ¬nish his
ˆ e
essay before leaving

il aura du = he will have had to
ˆ
Il aura du ¬nir sa r´ daction avant de partir = he will have had to ¬nish his essay
ˆ e
before leaving

il aurait du = he ought to have, he should have
ˆ
Il aurait du ¬nir sa r´ daction avant de partir = he should have / ought to have
ˆ e
¬nished his essay before leaving (see 139 for the use of the conditional perfect implying it is
alleged that)
Note “ the impersonal verb falloir = to be necessary may be used as an alternative to
devoir in certain circumstances “
Il faut venir ce soir = you [or other appropriate subject] must come this evening
Il avait fallu demander conseil au pharmacien = it had been necessary / we [or
other appropriate subject] had had to ask the chemist for advice
Pour gagner le prix, il fallait ecrire un po` me = to win the prize, you had to write a
´ e
poem
Il faudrait une semaine d™hospitalisation pour se r´ tablir = a week™s
e
hospitalisation would be necessary for recuperation
Il aurait fallu choisir une couleur diff´ rente pour ses cheveux = she [or other
e
appropriate subject] should have / ought to have chosen a different colour for her hair
Remember that as a transitive verb devoir = to owe
Il me doit cinq euros = he owes me ¬ve euros

161 pouvoir
Equivalent to English to be able to (physically), can, could, may, might, pouvoir expresses
possibility, granting permission, capability, politeness

84
161 pouvoir



elle peut
= possibility
`
Elle peut arriver a tout moment = she may arrive at any moment
Elle peut le faire elle-mˆ me = she can do it herself
e
Note the expression il se peut que + subjunctive (see 150) “
Il se peut que nous oublions le nom du professeur = it™s possible that we™ll / we
may forget the teacher™s name
= granting permission
Elle peut sortir si elle a ¬ni sa r´ p´ tition = she can go out if she™s ¬nished practising
ee
Tu ne peux pas sortir ce soir = you can™t go out this evening
Puis-je ouvrir la fenˆ tre? = may I open the window?
e
Note that this special form of the ¬rst person singular of the present tense of pouvoir is
used only in inverted questions (see 472).
= capability
Je peux nager sous l™eau = I can swim underwater (but see later)
= politeness
Puis- je vous aider?
= may I help you?
Je peux vous aider?

elle pouvait = she could, she was able to
Elle pouvait se souvenir de son nom = she could / was able to remember his name
Elle ne pouvait pas se souvenir de son nom = she couldn™t / wasn™t able to remember
his name
The imperfect tense is used here because a mental state is being referred to (see 129).

elle a pu = she could, she was able to, she managed to
Elle a pu accomplir tout cela en deux heures = she was able to / managed to ¬nish all
that in two hours
Elle a pu courir plus vite que d™habitude parce qu™elle avait peur = she could /
was able to run faster than usual because she was afraid
The perfect tense is used here because single events accomplished in a short space of
time are being referred to.

elle pourra = she can, she will be able to
Elle pourra sortir quand elle aura ¬ni sa r´ p´ tition = she can / will be able to go
ee
out when she™s ¬nished practising

elle pourrait = she could, she might (be able to)
Elle pourrait accomplir beaucoup plus si elle le voulait = she could do a lot more
if she wanted
Il se pourrait que nous ne le fassions pas = we might not be able to do it

85
A STUDENT GUIDE TO FRENCH GRAMMAR



Ca pourrait etre le cas = that might be the case
ˆ
¸
ˆ
On lui a dit qu™elle ne pourrait pas entrer en fac sans diplomes = they told her
she couldn™t / wouldn™t be able to go to university without quali¬cations

elle avait pu = she had been able to
Elle avait pu y aller parce que sa famille avait ¬nanc´ le projet = she had been
e
able to go, because her family had ¬nanced the project

elle aura pu = she will have been able
Avec de telles ressources, elle aura pu s™en occuper = with such resources, she will
have been able to deal with it

elle aurait pu = she would have been able to, she might have, she could have
Elle aurait pu pr´ parer un clafoutis extraordinaire si elle avait eu des
e
framboises = she could have made a fantastic clafoutis if she had had some raspberries
Il aurait pu le perdre = he might have lost it
Est-ce que tu aurais pu le faire sans moi? = could you have done it without me?
Note 1 “
whereas pouvoir = to be able, to have the physical capability, savoir = to be able, to have
the intellectual capability (see 162) “
Elle sait parler francais = she can speak French
¸
`
Elle peut monter a cheval en d´ pit de son handicap physique = she can ride a
e
horse in spite of her physical handicap
Note 2 “
there are alternatives to using pouvoir “ peut-ˆ tre = perhaps, il est possible que =
e
it™s possible that “


ˆ
Elle viendra peut-etre demain
= she may come tomorrow
ˆ
Peut-etre qu™elle viendra demain

Il est possible qu™elle vienne demain
Note 3 “
usage with peut-ˆ tre “ peut-ˆ tre can occupy three positions in a clause, depending
e e
upon the amount of prominence the user wishes to give it “

1 peut-ˆ tre in initial position followed by que and normal word order;
e
2 peut-ˆ tre in initial position with inversion of the subject and verb if the subject is a
e
pronoun;
or, if it is a noun, with the noun subject in initial position followed by peut-ˆ tre,
e
followed by inversion of the verb and a subject pronoun echoing the noun
3 peut-ˆ tre following the verb “
e

Peut-ˆ tre que votre pers´ v´ rance portera ses fruits  = perhaps your
e ee
Votre pers´ v´ rance, peut-ˆ tre portera-t-elle ses fruits perseverance will
ee e

bear fruit
Votre pers´ v´ rance portera peut-ˆ tre ses fruits
ee e

86
163 vouloir



Note 4 “
with verbs of perception, such as voir, entendre, sentir, can, could etc, are not translated
at all “
Je ne vois rien = I can™t see a thing
Elle n™entendait pas ce que disait le prof = she couldn™t hear what the teacher said

162 savoir
Equivalent to English to know, to know how, to be able (intellectually)

je sais
Je sais qu™elle est arriv´ e = I know she™s arrived
e
`
Je sais jouer a la p´ tanque = I can / know how to play bowls
e
Je sais comment elle m™a tromp´ = I know how she deceived me
e

163 vouloir
Equivalent to English to want to, to wish to, to like to

il veut = he wants to, he™s willing to
Il veut entreprendre une enquˆ te sur le bruit = he wants to undertake an investigation
e
into noise

il voulait = he wanted to, he was willing to
Il voulait devenir membre d™une association d™information pour les
diab´ tiques = he wanted to become a member of a support group for diabetics
e
The imperfect tense is used here because a mental state is being referred to (see 129).

il a voulu = he wanted to, he tried to
Il a voulu trouver un poste, mais il n™y en avait pas = he tried to ¬nd a job, but there
weren™t any
The perfect tense is used here because a single event curtailed by lack of time is being
referred to.

il voudra = he™ll want to, he™ll be willing to
`
Apr` s avoir fait deux ou trois tractations en haut, on voudra passer a des
e
exercices plus dif¬ciles = after doing two or three pull-ups, you™ll want to move on to more
dif¬cult exercises

il voudrait = he™d like to, he™d want to
Il voudrait voir le directeur = he would like / wanted to see the principal
Est-ce que tu viendras ce soir? “ Je voudrais bien, mais je ne me sens pas
bien = are you coming this evening? “ I™d like to, but I™m not feeling very well

87
A STUDENT GUIDE TO FRENCH GRAMMAR



il avait voulu = he had wanted to, he had been willing to, he had tried to
Il avait voulu croire que l™homme est brave et juste, mais l™exp´ rience l™a e
vite d´ sillusionn´ = he had wanted to believe that man is brave and just, but experience soon
e e
disillusioned him

il aurait voulu = he would have liked to, he would have wanted to
ˆ
Il aurait voulu etre persuad´ qu™elle avait plus de talent, mais h´ las, ce
e e
n™´ tait pas vrai = he would have liked to believe that she had more talent, but, alas, that wasn™t
e
the case

Note 1 “
English would referring to a future event that may or may not take place is normally
conveyed by the conditional tense of the verb (see 138) “
Elle viendrait si elle avait le temps = she would come if she had the time

Note 2 “
English would may also be used to indicate a habitual action in the past and is then
conveyed by the imperfect tense in French (see 129) “
Elle venait tous les vendredis = she would come every Friday

Note 3 “
the imperative of vouloir may be used to express a polite command (see 122) “
`
Veuille venir a 20 heures = please come at 8 o™clock
Veuillez fermer la fenˆ tre = would you mind closing the window?
e
Veuillez vous asseoir = please sit down

Note 4 “
the conditional and conditional perfect of aimer are sometimes used as alternatives to
the conditional and conditional perfect of vouloir “
J™aimerais tout recommencer = I™d like to start all over again
J™aurais aim´ tout recommencer = I™d have liked to start all over again
e



Impersonal verbs

164 Impersonal verbs
Certain verbs are only used with the third person singular form il, which in such circum-
stances is equivalent to English it. Although the pronoun is invariable, the verb changes
for tense. The verbs fall into the following categories “

1 Verbs relating to the weather
Il g` le = it™s freezing
e
Il fait jour = it™s daylight
Il neige = it™s snowing
Il pleut = it™s raining

88
165 Defective verbs



Il tonne = it™s thundering
Quel temps fait-il? = what™s the weather like?
Il fait beau/mauvais/chaud/froid = the weather is ¬ne/awful/hot/cold
Il fait un temps gris = it™s overcast
Il fait du soleil/vent = it™s sunny/windy

2 Impersonal expressions
il y a = there is
il faut que (+ subjunctive) = it™s necessary (see 150)
il s™agit de = it™s a matter/question of
il semble/paraˆt que (+ subjunctive) = it seems that (see 150)
±
il arrive = it happens (see 150)
Il m™arrive de temps en temps d™en dire trop = it sometimes happens that I say too
much

ˆ
3 Expressions involving etre
Quelle heure est-il? “ Il est dix-huit heures = what™s the time? “ It™s 6 o™clock (see 440)
Il est temps de/que (+ subjunctive) = it™s time to/that (see 150)
Il est question de/que (+ subjunctive) = it™s a matter of/that (see 150)
Il etait une fois = once upon a time
´
Il est possible / impossible / probable / peu probable / vrai / faux, etc =
it™s possible/ impossible/likely/unlikely/true/wrong (see 150)


Defective verbs

165 Defective verbs
Certain verbs do not have a complete conjugation for each tense. These are known as
defective verbs. They tend to be rather archaic, rare verbs.
absoudre = to absolve, bruire = to rustle, choir/d´ choir = to fall, clore = to close,
e
dissoudre = to dissolve, frire = to fry, ou¨r = to hear (past participle only, ou¨), traire
± ±
= to milk
Most of these verbs mainly occur as in¬nitives and past participles, often acting as
adjectives; their conjugated forms have by and large disappeared from common use.
Tous sont d™accord que ce dossier n™est jamais clos = everyone agrees that this ¬le
is never closed
Quand votre partenaire vous quitte pour une autre, on se sent d´ chu dans e
un univers terne et vide = when your partner leaves you for someone else, you feel abandoned
in an empty, drab world
La fusion avec l™autre, c™est l™exp´ rience inou¨e = to become united with your partner
e ±
is an incredible experience
However, one or two have lost only a few tenses “ absoudre and dissoudre have
retained all tenses except the past historic and imperfect subjunctive; frire no longer has
the imperfect or past historic tenses or the simple subjunctive tenses. Even so, the tenses
that are retained are very rarely used.

89
A STUDENT GUIDE TO FRENCH GRAMMAR



Exercises


1 Les imp´ ratifs “ r´ ecrivez les passages suivants en donnant les formes
e
de l™imp´ ratif qui conviennent.
e
a DON™T FORGET de fermer le r´ cipient avant de mouliner son contenu.
e
`
b Le look gothique est a la page. BE AWARE toutefois qu™il faut en user
avec mod´ ration.
e
`
c Avec un blouson en cuir, DARE les grosses ceintures clout´ es ou a
e
boucle en argent.
d Vous avez des probl` mes de pellicules et pas de shampooing ad´ quat?
e e
TAKE deux aspirines effervescentes, DISSOLVE THEM dans un verre
d™eau et RUB le cuir chevelu avec la pr´ paration obtenue.
e
e Allong´ sur le dos, la main droite derri` re la tˆ te, STRETCH votre
e e e
`
jambe droite a la verticale et BEND celle de gauche, le pied au sol. En
expirant, BRING votre main gauche TOWARDS de votre cheville droite.
DO cinq s´ ries de 15 r´ p´ titions.
e ee
f AVOID de poser la question brutalement.
`
g CONCENTRATE, CALM votre coeur: le stress se calme a son tour et
disparaˆt.
±
h SEASON de sel, poivre et quatre-´ pices. MIX. INCORPORATE les
e
morceaux de foie gras. COVER. COOK 1h 30 au bain-marie dans le four.
ALLOW TO refroidir. KEEP 48h au r´ frig´ rateur.
e e

2 R´ ecrivez le texte suivant en style indirect, en changeant les temps du
verbe, les pronoms, etc
e`
Commencez ainsi “ Plan` te Foot a demand´ a Thierry quels sentiments . . .
e
Plan` te Foot: Thierry, quels sentiments t™ont travers´ l™esprit lorsque l™arbitre
e e
a donn´ le coup de sif¬‚et ¬nal de la derni` re journ´ e du championnat anglais?
e e e
Thierry Henry: Terminer un championnat invaincu, c™est vraiment
formidable. Mais, sur le coup, je ne m™en rends pas compte. Tu sais que l™arbitre
e` ´
a sif¬‚´ , mais d´ ja, on etait champions depuis presque un mois et, cinq jours
e
apr` s, on sait que l™on joue le Br´ sil au Stade de France. On n™a pas r´ ellement le
e e e
`
temps d™en pro¬ter. Tu ne l™appr´ cies pas vraiment. Il faut passer a autre chose.
e

3 Subjonctif ou indicatif? R´ ecrivez les phrases suivantes en donnant la
forme du verbe qui convient “
´
a Il faut bien que votre ch´ ri SE DETENDRE de temps en temps.
e
ˆ `
b Je veux t™embrasser avant que on ETRE de retour a Calais.
c La premi` re fois que je le VOIR, c™´ tait en classe de seconde.
e e

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