Daily dose of positivity Let's get through the coronavirus together »

Why is the subjonctive not used in the phrase: "il ne pense pas qu'il sera là à temps...." I thought penser in the negative takes the subjonctive?

AnnC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Why is the subjonctive not used in the phrase: "il ne pense pas qu'il sera là à temps...." I thought penser in the negative takes the subjonctive?

Asked 10 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Ann and Paul,

It depends whether you are implying a great deal of doubt or certainty.

In the case of the "Fête d'Anniversaire surprise", Bruno doesn't think he will be able to get there in time for the surprise element of the party. He doesn't think his boss will let him leave early. Implied is the fact that he knows his boss well and that he won't give him permission to do it.

In other words by using the indicative/future, you take away the doubt and it becomes (almost) a certainty that he won't make it in time. There is a very slight chance but unlikely.

If,

 " Il ne pense pas qu'il puisse être là  à temps"

had been said, it sounds that there's a doubt but the possibility to make it is stronger...

Very subtle I know...

Hope this helps!

PaulC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Moi aussi, j’avais la même question.

PaulC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Thanks Cécile. The subjonctif - so tricky! I was thinking the answer might be “Il ne pense pas qu’il SOIT là à temps”. Is that an option, or does that make no sense?

CécileKwiziq team member

Hi Paul,

No you are quite right , I changed the sentence slightly by adding ‘pouvoir’ to the sentence!

Why is the subjonctive not used in the phrase: "il ne pense pas qu'il sera là à temps...." I thought penser in the negative takes the subjonctive?

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

Ask a question

Find your French level for FREE

Test your French to the CEFR standard

Find your French level
I'll be right with you...