Present vs. past subjunctive

HelenaB2Kwiziq community member

Present vs. past subjunctive

In translating "Before we moved to the city when I was 13," I used the past subjunctive, "Avant que nous n'ayons emménagé...".  However, you used the present subjunctive, "n'emménagions".  Why is that?

Asked 3 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Bonjour Helena !

Thank you for this super interesting question, which started a lively conversation in the Kwiziq team :)

In the context of this sentence, Le Subjonctif Présent is definitely the correct option, and here's why:

Le Subjonctif Passé refers, quite similarly to Le Passé Composé, to a "pinpoint" action that started and ended by the end of the statement.

Here's an example: 

Il doit arriver avant que je n'aie repassé mes vêtements.
He must get here before I finish ironing my clothes.

-> Here it means before the ironing is finished, completed.

Now in our sentence, "avant que nous n'emménagions en ville", we're not looking at the move as the very action/day of moving, but more as a change of situation, i.e. we used to live there, before we moved/lived here.
And that is why Le Subjonctif Présent is the correct option here (as Le Subjonctif Imparfait is completely obsolete nowadays).

I hope that's helpful!
Merci encore et bonne journée !

Present vs. past subjunctive

In translating "Before we moved to the city when I was 13," I used the past subjunctive, "Avant que nous n'ayons emménagé...".  However, you used the present subjunctive, "n'emménagions".  Why is that?

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