An introduction to the subjunctive in French


Vive le subjonctif ! Qu’il renaisse et s’infiltre dans toutes les langues, ainsi que tout ce qu’il représente. Que le « que » soit la clé.

I am currently teaching a summer intensive course in intermediate French. Welcome to subjunctive week. (This is a first version of the subjunctive, and just the present; there are continuations, for higher-level French, including the other tenses, the passive, indirect speech, etc.) It is one of my favourite things in French grammar and about French; along with the conditional (that was last week), changing your environment—and your very being—from a simple single world to many worlds in a multiverse, which includes worlds and constellations inside you and others.

Knowing something about the subjunctive opens up new understanding of phenomenology; of key differences between phenomenologies thought and expressed in, for example, French (or Latin or German) or English; and of the problems of translations, of Englishings that can only be very approximate representations of the likes of Bachelard and Merleau-Ponty.

We’re in the sphere of perceptions, versions, and interpretations; and whenever I teach the subjunctive, I’m aware and wary of how much it’s my own interpretation. That is not a bad thing. It can be a good thing. Grammar, like any learning and thinking, can be speculative fictioneering.

Plus précisément : que la queue du « Q » du « que » soit la clé

I changed a number of things this time, including using some new images as anchors in a different metaphor; inspired by the image used in the set course materials, which reminded me of moon gates on Bermuda—from a wonderful holiday right after I defended my PhD, the first actual proper holiday I had had in years—and of the work of the land artist Cornelia Konrads. I only met the latter very recently via @womensart1 on Twitter.

Moral of the story: Twitter is a good thing.

Here is the full version:


Here is the quick visual version: