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Subjunctive French | Rosetta Stone®

Learn about the French subjunctive tense with Rosetta Stone’s award-winning app.

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When to Use the Subjunctive French Tense

Use the subjunctive tense (subjonctif)—also known as the subjunctive mood—in a dependent clause when you’re trying to express either the subjectivity or uncertainty of the speaker. For instance, if you wanted to say, “It’s not important that you do housework.” you would use the subjunctive form of the infinitive “faire” and say, “Il est pas important que tu fasse le ménage”. This is because you’re expressing an opinion in the context of a dependent “que” clause. If you instead wanted to say, “It’s not important to do housework.” then there is no clause, so you cannot use the subjunctive and must instead use the infinitive form, “Il est pas important de faire le ménage”.

If the subjunctive mood seems tricky, that is because it’s nuanced in much the same way as the imperfect tense (imparfait). Through practise, however, you’ll develop an intuition about when and where to use it smoothly. Unlike English, where the subjunctive mood isn’t widely understood or used by many native speakers, it’s a central element of day-to-day French.

Rosetta Stone’s language-learning programs build confidence in speaking and understanding French. Whether you’re a beginner, or an intermediate French speaker looking to advance your fluency, Rosetta Stone can help. With an immersive approach that focuses on contextualising learning, Rosetta Stone uses an award-winning mobile app to deliver bite-sized lessons that help you learn French anytime and anywhere.

Learning French

As a beginning learner of the French language, you may be tempted to focus on trying to memorise long lists of French vocabulary words. But memorising words doesn’t pan out to be a very effective way to learn French. Rather than trying to memorise as many words as possible, you’ll be much better off first learning to pronounce some of the most commonly used French words and short phrases. After all, your purpose for learning a new language is likely not vocabulary acquisition alone. Rather, your goal is more likely to be achieving enough knowledge to comfortably and confidently speak French in everyday situations.

You will quickly find that there are a fairly small set of most commonly used French words and short phrases that are used in everyday conversations. Learning these frequently used words and short phrases will give you a great start. These words and phrases go beyond greetings like “Bonjour” and “S’il vous plaît”, to include the words and phrases that native French speakers sprinkle throughout their sentences. These are words such as quoi, , qui, quand, pourquoi, and comment. These familiar and frequently used French words are similar to the fundamental English words of what, where, who, when, why, and how. Like their English counterparts, these French words often pop up in everyday conversations.

Once you are comfortable with some basic words, you will find it natural to move onto learning longer phrases. Rosetta Stone language lessons will teach you in just this way—offering an immersive experience that first teaches common words and phrases with visual and audio cues. Each 10-minute language lesson is grouped into units that feature the frequently used conversational phrases that you’ll need for everyday situations. And all Rosetta Stone language lessons include practical review to help learners solidify their new language skills.

One of the notable characteristics of the French language is its je ne sais quoi—an indefinable quality that makes the French accent sound so very alluring. But what may seem at first to be an elusive characteristic of the French unique language’s appeal is really just a nuance of French pronunciation. It’s true that French can be a bit challenging to learn. That’s because French is much more nasal in its pronunciation than other languages. Practise will lead you to become comfortable with this distinct difference. And for this reason alone, it’s important that you learn proper French pronunciation as you learn commonly used words and short phrases.

The French alphabet has the same 26 letters as the English alphabet. That said, some of the letters are pronounced quite differently in French. As one frequently heard example, the letter e is pronounced quite distinctly in French. The letter e in French is pronounced ‘euh' and is heard in many, if not most, French conversations. That’s because the French letter e is used the way English speakers use the sound “uh.” So, in French, the letter e is commonly used as a pause or as a connector to another thought.

The French language includes helpful accent marks to guide your pronunciation, another notable difference from English. In French, there are five different accent marks: the cédille (Ç), the aigu (é), the circonflexe (â, ê, î, ô, û), the grave (à, è, ù), and the tréma (ë, ï, ü). These five French accent marks most often indicate that the pronunciation of the accented letter is irregular. With one exception; the circonflexe is used strictly in French writing and has no effect on pronunciation.

Rosetta Stone helps you get the pronunciation right in a snap with our TruAccent™ speech engine. TruAccent compares your voice to native and non-native speakers—in real-time—so you get the feedback you need for the most accurate pronunciation. It’s also adjustable, which allows you to tweak your accent as needed. TruAccent is a powerful tool for helping you learn and speak the French language.

Once beginners have learned basic and commonly used French words and short phrases, they’ll be ready to move on to learning the longer French phrases that make up the backbone of much of everyday conversation. Rosetta Stone’s brief and digestible, 10-minute language lessons are designed to help you learn in just this way—teaching commonly used basic words, then shorter phrases, and then longer phrases, and always emphasising proper pronunciation. Rosetta Stone language lessons will help you learn to understand and speak French with comfort and confidence.

Try Our Award-Winning App

Surround yourself with French whenever, wherever with the Rosetta Stone app.

Download a unit and knock it out on the train or a flight. Select a 5-10 minute lesson and sneak it in while you wait in line or for your ride to show up. And explore dynamic features, like Seek and Speak, where you can point at an object in the real world and get a translation.

The best part? You don’t have to choose between app or desktop. Both come with your subscription and sync, so you can switch between devices seamlessly.