À moins que + ne explétif + Le Subjonctif = Unless you do

Look at these sentences:

Je l'aiderai à moins que vous ne le fassiez.I'll help him unless you do it.

La date est arrêtée à moins que nous ne changions nos plans.The date is set unless we change our plans.

On peut aller au cinéma à moins que tu ne veuilles aller autre part.We can go to the cinema unless you want to go somewhere else.

Je te crois à moins que tu ne m'aies menti.I believe you unless you lied to me.

 
To express unless + verb (= unless you do it) in French is a bit more complicated:

à moins que + subject + ne explétif + the verb in Subjonctif présent or Subjonctif passé

 

Note that in speech, the ne explétif can be dropped.

Je l'aiderai à moins que vous ne le fassiez.

 


See Understanding the 'ne' explétif

as well as other similar expressions using subordinating conjunctions:

Sans que (+ ne explétif) + Le Subjonctif = Without doing

Avant que + ne explétif + Le Subjonctif = Before I do

De peur que + ne explétif + Le Subjonctif = For fear that

 

Examples and resources

La date est arrêtée à moins que nous ne changions nos plans.The date is set unless we change our plans.
Je te crois à moins que tu ne m'aies menti.I believe you unless you lied to me.
Je l'aiderai à moins que vous ne le fassiez.I'll help him unless you do it.
Henri va gagner la course à moins que Thomas ne coure plus vite.Henri is going to win the race unless Thomas runs faster.
On peut aller au cinéma à moins que tu ne veuilles aller autre part.We can go to the cinema unless you want to go somewhere else.

Q&A Forum 7 questions, 11 answers

GC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Avoir vs Prendre

This question relates to the use of avoir vs prendre in one of the test questions for the subjonctif linked to this forum. 

Question: "Ils n'auront pas de dessert à moins qu'ils ne fassent leurs lits".

I thought when talking about having a meal or a drink etc. the verb "prendre" was used - not avoir?

Asked 1 week ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi G,

In this example, it is more to translate the idea of 'getting a dessert' rather than eating it, so 'avoir' is correct.

Hope this helps!

GC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

It does thank you!

Avoir vs Prendre

This question relates to the use of avoir vs prendre in one of the test questions for the subjonctif linked to this forum. 

Question: "Ils n'auront pas de dessert à moins qu'ils ne fassent leurs lits".

I thought when talking about having a meal or a drink etc. the verb "prendre" was used - not avoir?

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William C1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Subjunctive or infinitive

In all your examples, the two subjects are different. But what happens when they are the same? Can you just use the infintive?

For example

Unless I want to buy something, I only need my house key.

À moins que JE veuille acheter quelque chose, JE n'ai besoin que de ma clé de maison.

À moins de vouloir acheter quelque chose, je n'ai besoin que de ma clé de maison. 

Asked 2 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi William,

Both your sentences are correct.

Bonne continuation!

DiegoC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

"À moins que" can only be followed by Subjonctif, regardless of the respective subjects being the same or not.

For reference: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%C3%A0_moins_que

I'm not a native French speaker, but this is pretty much the same in Spanish, my native language: "A menos que + subjuntivo". Using any other mood just sounds wrong to me.

William C1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

This is French grammar. French Grammar rules are not identical to Spanish grammar rules! On another website I wrote "À moins que je veuille acheter quelque chose, je n'ai besoin que de ma clé de maison. " and a native French speaker changed it to "À moins de vouloir acheter quelque chose, je n'ai besoin que de ma clé de maison.".  

William C1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Thank you Cecile.

Subjunctive or infinitive

In all your examples, the two subjects are different. But what happens when they are the same? Can you just use the infintive?

For example

Unless I want to buy something, I only need my house key.

À moins que JE veuille acheter quelque chose, JE n'ai besoin que de ma clé de maison.

À moins de vouloir acheter quelque chose, je n'ai besoin que de ma clé de maison. 

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LarryC1Kwiziq community member

Sauf que plus indicative is synonymous with a moins que + subjunctive, but was marked incorrect in quiz. Suggest that lesson mentions this alternative

Asked 1 year ago

Sauf que plus indicative is synonymous with a moins que + subjunctive, but was marked incorrect in quiz. Suggest that lesson mentions this alternative

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BillC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Bonsoir - could someone help me with the below sentence?

Je ne partirai pas d'ici à moins que nous ne décidions où nous allions/irons?

Ou peut-être:

Je ne paritrai pas d'ici à moins que nous ne décidions où aller?

Asked 1 year ago
BillC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
I guess no one wants to help me with my question :(

Bonsoir - could someone help me with the below sentence?

Je ne partirai pas d'ici à moins que nous ne décidions où nous allions/irons?

Ou peut-être:

Je ne paritrai pas d'ici à moins que nous ne décidions où aller?

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MichaelC1Kwiziq community member

ne expletif

If the 'ne' is optional why are you marking down? Also in a previous explanation we are told that following a negative main clause we cannot use a 'ne' expletif....? Have I misunderstood? Please address both points.
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member
Bonjour Michael ! The note you're mentioning only applies to the case of "sans que" :) The reason we're marking the absence of the "ne" slightly down is that in written form, it is compulsory, though as we mentioned in the lesson, it can be dropped in speech. Bonne journée !

ne expletif

If the 'ne' is optional why are you marking down? Also in a previous explanation we are told that following a negative main clause we cannot use a 'ne' expletif....? Have I misunderstood? Please address both points.

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JenniferC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Here là versus ici

In the sentence unless you are here, is it the mood that requires here to be translated as là rather than ici?
Asked 2 years ago
GruffKwiziq team member
Hi Jennifer - in French the expression "être là" has a more general meaning of being present so it is less specific than "ici" which would mean here in this specific location. Depending on the context it might mean "is there" instead, for example.
JenniferC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Thank you Gruff. Another gap in my knowledge filled.

Here là versus ici

In the sentence unless you are here, is it the mood that requires here to be translated as là rather than ici?

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ArashC1Kwiziq community member

How would you say " I do it unless you are NOT here".

Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member
Bonjour Arash ! To make the verb after "à moins que" negative, you will use "ne" + "PAS". That's how you'll make the difference with the "ne explétif", as the negation is carried by "pas" here: "Je le ferai à moins que tu ne sois *pas* là." I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !

How would you say " I do it unless you are NOT here".

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