avant que nous ne commencions

CarlC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

avant que nous ne commencions

I believe "avant que" takes the subjunctive.  Since this is a memory from the past, shouldn't we use the past subjunctive?

Asked 7 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Carl,

'commencions' is the present subjunctive of the verb commencer.

Using the past subjunctive would make it more of a pluperfect in English -, before we had started' rather than the simple past 'before we started'.

Take a look at this conjugation table -

https://leconjugueur.lefigaro.fr/conjugaison/verbe/commencer.html

 

Bonne Continuation !

 

MaartenC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Carl, in this sentence, it would be ‘imparfait’ in a non-subjunctive expression - this was an habitual  ‘action’ from the past over an indefinite period of time,  and forms part of the background, the narrative. In English it could also be translated as ‘before starting to eat .. ‘ 

Subjunctive is only regularly used in speech nowadays in present (mostly) or passé composé and unless speaking of a specific event that would be related in passé composé in the non-subjunctive form, the present subjunctive is normally used. Hence, present subjunctive use in this example.

 https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/revision/glossary/conjugation-tense-mood-aspect/french-subjunctive-imperfect-tense-le-subjonctif-imparfait

 https://www.thoughtco.com/french-literary-tenses-1368875

avant que nous ne commencions

I believe "avant que" takes the subjunctive.  Since this is a memory from the past, shouldn't we use the past subjunctive?

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