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Imperfect Subjunctive - French Literary Tense

Imparfait du subjonctif


The French imperfect subjunctive (imparfait du subjonctif) is a literary verb form used in formal writing, such as literature, journalism, and history. Like all literary verb forms, you really only need to be able to recognize it, not use it.

The imperfect subjunctive is used in a subordinate clause when the main clause is in the past. Its non-literary equivalent is the present subjunctive.

   Il partit pour que nous eussions la salle à nous-mêmes.
   He left so that we'd have the room to ourselves.
   Equivalent: Il est parti pour que nous ayons la salle à nous-mêmes.

   Je voulais qu'il parlât à son frère.
   I wanted him to talk to his brother.
   Equivalent: Je voulais qu'il parle à son frère.

Go on to page 2 to learn how to conjugate the imperfect subjunctive.
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