"Espérer que" and the dreaded subjunctive.

PaulC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

"Espérer que" and the dreaded subjunctive.

The very useful subjunctivisor of Lawless French advises that the verb espérer que when used in the affirmative = no subjunctive (usually in the future tense), whereas espérer que when used in the negative or interrogative = subjunctive. So in this exercise shouldn't it be "Espérons qu'il aura raison"? (as she is definitely affirmatively hoping for this result). Or is the imperative another case where this verb takes the subjunctive? And if so, is this the case for other similar verbs like penser que? And also in the tu and vous forms of the imperative as well as the nous form? Thanks.

Asked 9 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Paul,

'Espérer que' is a tricky verb as it will be followed by an indicative when in an affirmative statement - in the future tense as it refers to something that hasn't happened yet -

J'espère qu'il va arriver vite = I hope he'll get here quick 

But it can be followed by a subjunctive in interrogative, negative and imperative sentences depending on the degree of doubt which you want to convey.

In the text -

Espérons qu'il ait raison!  sounds a bit sarcastic to me and the doubt is very much there!

Hope this helps

 

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Espérer is a borderline case which may or may not take the subjunctive, even in the affirmative sense. If you want to stress the doubtfulness of the outcome or express more of a wishfulness, the subjunctive will do just that. Usually, though, and in standard situations, your understanding is also mine: indicative in positive sense, subjunctive in negative meanings.

Here is a bit more about that: https://www.frenchspanishonline.com/magazine/esperer-que-subjunctive-yes-or-no/amp/

PaulC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Thanks Chris. That reference was interesting. In my opinion there is always doubt when using “hope” in English (similar to wish - i hope I win Lotto tonight) and very rarely would it have that other sense of “expect”,  so really we’ve been getting it wrong and the subjunctive would be more appropriate in just about every case. But that would make all the text-books wrong so it must be when we want to particularly stress the doubt. Very, very subtle though (as in this case in the exercise where I am sure she didn’t really think that her mother-in-law was a witch, so there wasn’t really any doubt, making the use of the subjunctive an interesting choice!). Anyhow, I’m rambling. We continue the struggle

AnnC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

I had the same question, Paul.

"Espérer que" and the dreaded subjunctive.

The very useful subjunctivisor of Lawless French advises that the verb espérer que when used in the affirmative = no subjunctive (usually in the future tense), whereas espérer que when used in the negative or interrogative = subjunctive. So in this exercise shouldn't it be "Espérons qu'il aura raison"? (as she is definitely affirmatively hoping for this result). Or is the imperative another case where this verb takes the subjunctive? And if so, is this the case for other similar verbs like penser que? And also in the tu and vous forms of the imperative as well as the nous form? Thanks.

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