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Giáo trình động từ tiếng Pháp - Part V Considering Your Mood: Subjunctive or Not - Chapter 21 pdf

Chapter 21
Forming and Using the Past Subjunctive
In This Chapter
ᮣ Creating the past subjunctive
ᮣ Using the past subjunctive
ᮣ Choosing between the present and past subjunctive
I
n French you use the past subjunctive much more often than in English. It’s a compound
tense and is used to express a completed action in the past. The choice between the
present and past subjunctive depends on the time relationship between the main clause
and the subordinate clause.
You use the past subjunctive, also known as the
perfect subjunctive, in oral as well as written
French. It follows the same rules as the present subjunctive that I talk about in Chapters 19
and 20. Use the past subjunctive when the action of the verb in the subordinate clause takes
place before the action of the main verb. That sounds tricky, but you can see an example of
this in this sentence:
Je suis triste que mon ami ne soit pas venu à ma boom hier means
I am sad that my friend did not come to my party yesterday. In this chapter I first show you
how to form the past subjunctive and then how to correctly use it.
Forming the Past Subjunctive

Like all past tenses in French, the past subjunctive needs an auxiliary and a past participle
of a verb of your choice. Remember that French has two auxiliaries —
avoir (to have) and
être (to be). To form the past subjunctive, you put these two auxiliaries in the present
subjunctive and add the past participle. For a list of verbs taking these auxiliaries as well as
a list of past participles, see Chapter 12.
The past subjunctive follows the same rules of agreement as any other compound past
tense. If the auxiliary of the verb is
être, then the past participle agrees with the subject. If
the auxiliary of the verb is
avoir, then the past participle agrees with the preceding direct
object if the sentence has one. If the sentence doesn’t have a preceding direct object, then
the past participle doesn’t change.
All pronominal verbs take the auxiliary
être, but they follow the same rule of agreement as
those taking the auxiliary
avoir. The past participle agrees with the preceding direct object
if the sentence has one. In the following examples, I conjugate an
avoir verb (voir), an être
verb (partir), and a pronominal verb (se lever) in the past subjunctive tense.
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voir (
to see
)
que j’aie vu que nous ayons vu
que tu aies vu que vous ayez vu
qu’il/elle/on ait vu qu’ils/elles aient vu
C’est le meilleur film que j’aie vu. (
It’s the best film that I’ve seen.
)
partir (
to leave
)
que je sois parti(e) que nous soyons partis(es)
que tu sois parti(e) que vous soyez parti(s)(e)(es)
qu’il/elle/on soit parti(e) qu’ils/elles soient partis(es)
Il est triste que tu sois parti. (
He’s sad that you left.
)
se lever (
to get up
)
que je me sois levé(e) que nous nous soyons levés(es)
que tu te sois levé(e) que vous vous soyez levé(s)(e)(es)
qu’il/elle/on se sois levé(e) qu’ils/elles se soient levés(es)
Il est surprenant que vous vous soyez leve si tôt. (
It is surprising that you got up so early.
)
Put the verbs in parentheses in the past subjunctive.
Q. . . . que tu _________________ (faire)
A. . . . que tu aies fait
1.
. . . que nous _________________ (venir)
2. . . . qu’ils _________________ (chercher)
3. . . . que tu _________________ (tomber)
4. . . . que vous _________________ (demander)
5. . . . qu’elle _________________ (rester)
Using the Past Subjunctive
The past subjunctive is like any other past tense. You use it in the subordinate clause;
it follows the same rules as the present subjunctive. The verb or verbal expression in
the main clause must express a wish, will, command, emotion, doubt, or a subjective
point of view in order for the verb in the subordinate clause to be in the subjunctive.
Remember: Use the past subjunctive when the action of the verb in the subordinate
clause comes before the action of the verb in the main clause.
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Part V: Considering Your Mood: Subjunctive or Not
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The choice between the present and past subjunctive doesn’t depend on the tense of
the verb in the main clause. The verb in the main clause can be in the present, past,
future, or even the conditional.
Mon grand-père était surpris que je ne sois pas allé le voir. (My grandfather was
surprised that I did not go to see him.
)
Try putting the verbs in parentheses in the past subjunctive. Check out the sample
practice problem if you need help.
Q. Elle aurait préféré que nous _________________ (téléphoner)
A. Elle aurait préféré que nous ayons téléphoné. (She would have preferred that we called.)
6. C’est dommage que ton chien _________________ (mourir).
7. Croyez-vous qu’ils _________________ (ne pas prendre) de vacances depuis trois ans?
8. Nous sommes ravis que notre fille _________________ (recevoir) son diplôme.
9. J’étais surpris que tu _________________ (ne pas téléphoner).
10. Je regrette qu’ils _________________ (finir) avant sept heures.
Distinguishing between the Present
and Past Subjunctive
You choose either the present or past subjunctive based on the time relationship of
the action of the verb in the subordinate clause with the verb in the main clause.
Use the present subjunctive when the action of the verb in the subordinate clause
occurs at the same time or after the action of the main verb.
Je suis triste que tu partes. (I am sad that you are leaving.)
J’étais triste que tu partes. (I was sad that you were leaving.)
Je serai triste que tu partes. (I will be sad that you will be leaving.)
Use the past subjunctive when the action of the subordinate verb occurs before the
action of the main verb.
Je suis triste que tu sois parti. (I am sad that you left.)
J’étais triste que tu sois parti. (I was sad that you left.)
Je serai triste que tu sois parti. (I will be sad that you left.)
Decide between the present and past subjunctive in the following practice problems.
Remember that if the action of the verb in the subordinate clause occurs at the same
time or after the action of the main verb, you use the present subjunctive. But if the
action of the subordinate verb occurs before the action of the main verb, use the past
subjunctive.
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Chapter 21: Forming and Using the Past Subjunctive
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Q. Bien qu’il _________________ (essayer) d’ouvrir la porte, il n’a pas pu.
A. Bien qu’il ait essayé d’ouvrir la porte, il n’a pas pu. (Even though he tried to open the door,
he was not able to.
)
11. Je suis content que tu _________________ (venir) hier soir.
12. Il faut que tu le _________________ (faire) maintenant.
13. Bien que maman _________________ (préparer) un grand repas, personne n’avait faim.
14. Tout le monde regrette que vous _________________ (être) licencié.
15. Je lirai en attendant que tu _________________ (s’habiller).
16. C’est le meilleur film que je jamais _________________ (voir).
17. Nos parents nous laisseront sortir pourvu que nous _________________ (amener) notre
soeur.
18. J’aurais voulu que tu _________________ (finir) tes études avant de te marier.
19. Il est nécessaire que nous _________________ (apprendre) le subjonctif.
20. Il vaut mieux que vous lui _________________ (téléphoner) avant de le voir.
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Part V: Considering Your Mood: Subjunctive or Not
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Answer Key
This section contains the answers to the practice problems in this chapter. Compare
your answers to the correct answers. (I don’t provide translations for problems 1–5
because they’re only verb conjugations and aren’t complete sentences.)
a
. . . que nous soyons venus(es)
b
. . . qu’ils aient cherché
c
. . . que tu sois tombé(e)
d
. . . que vous ayez demandé
e
. . . qu’elle soit restée
f
C’est dommage que ton chien soit mort. (It is too bad that your dog died.)
g
Croyez-vous qu’ils n’aient pas pris de vacances depuis trois ans? (Do you believe that they did
not take a vacation for three years?
)
h
Nous sommes ravis que notre fille ait reçu son diplôme. (We are delighted that our daughter
received her diploma.
)
i
J’étais surpris que tu n’aies pas téléphoné. (I was surprised that you didn’t call.)
j
Je regrette qu’ils n’aient pas fini avant sept heures. (I regret that they did not finish before seven
o’clock.
)
k
Je suis content que tu sois venu(e) hier soir. (I am happy that you came yesterday evening.)
l
Il faut que tu le fasses maintenant. (It is necessary that you do it now.)
m
Bien que maman ait préparé un grand repas, personne n’avait faim. (Even though mom pre-
pared a big meal, no one was hungry.
)
n
Tout le monde regrette que vous ayez été licencié. (Everyone regrets that you were laid off.)
o
Je lirai en attendant que tu t’habilles. (I will read while waiting that you get dressed.)
p
C’est le meilleur film que j’aie jamais vu. (It’s the best film that I ever saw.)
q
Nos parents nous laisseront sortir pourvu que nous amenions notre soeur. (Our parents will
allow us to go out provided that we bring our sister.
)
r
J’aurais voulu que tu aies fini tes études avant de te marier. (I would have liked that you had
finished your studies before getting married.
)
s
Il est nécessaire que nous apprenions le subjonctif. (It is necessary that we learn the
subjunctive.
)
t
Il vaut mieux que vous lui téléphoniez avant de le voir. (It is better that you call him before
seeing him.
)
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Chapter 21: Forming and Using the Past Subjunctive
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Part V: Considering Your Mood: Subjunctive or Not
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