Created using FigmaCreated using Figma

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

Look at these sentences:

Avant que nous ne commencions, je voudrais vous remercier.
Before we start, I would like to thank you.

Il viendra te voir avant que tu ne partes.
He'll come and see you before you leave.

Avant que je n'aille chez Paula, je dois acheter des fleurs.
Before I go to Paula's, I have to get some flowers.

Tu es arrivé avant que je n'aie fini mes devoirs.
You arrived before I finished my homework.

 

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

avant que + subject + ne explétif + the verb in  Subjonctif présent or  Subjonctif passé.

 

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

Il viendra te voir avant que tu ne partes.

 

See also Understanding the 'ne' explétif 

and Après que + L'Indicatif = After + verb

as well as other similar expressions using subordinating conjunctions:

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

De peur que + Le Subjonctif = For fear that

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

 

Examples and resources

Tu es arrivé avant que je n'aie fini mes devoirs.
You arrived before I finished my homework.


Avant que vous ne m'interrompiez, laissez-moi vous dire quelque chose. 
Before you interrupt me, let me tell you something.


Avant que nous ne commencions, je voudrais vous remercier.
Before we start, I would like to thank you.


Avant que je n'aille chez Paula, je dois acheter des fleurs.
Before I go to Paula's, I have to get some flowers.


Il viendra te voir avant que tu ne partes.
He'll come and see you before you leave.


Je dois me dépêcher avant qu'ils ne soient en retard.
I have to hurry before they're late.


Micro kwiz: Avant que + ne explétif + Le Subjonctif = Before I do
Loading your Kwiz

Q&A

Chris

Kwiziq community member

10 September 2017

7 replies

Que faisiez-vous, avant que je n’arrive?

This is from a Le Petit Nicholas story. Is the second phrase identical to "avant que je ne sois arrivé?" The meaning is clearly "before I arrived". Thanks!

Ron

Kwiziq community member

11 September 2017

11/09/17

Bonjour Chris,
Keeping in mind that «arriver» has many senses in French, let's look at a few:
1) [train, visiteur, courrier] to arrive
⇒ Il arrive à Paris à 8 h. He gets to Paris at 8., He arrives in Paris at 8.
j'arrive! I'm coming!, coming!
en arriver à faire -- to end up doing, to get to the point of doing
2) (= survenir) to happen
⇒ Ce sont des choses qui arrivent. These things happen.
⇒ C'est arrivé quand? When did it happen?
3) arriver à qn --> to happen to sb
⇒ Qu'est-ce qui est arrivé à Christian? What happened to Christian?
arriver à (sujet chose) [date, étape] to reach
arriver à terme [contrat] to come to an end
arriver à échéance to fall due
4) (= réussir)
arriver à [perfection, but] to reach, to achieve
arriver à faire qch to manage to do sth
⇒ J'espère que je vais y arriver. I hope I'm going to manage it.
Given these various definitions, to me it is not obvious the meaning is «before I arrived" So here is another possible translation for that phrase --> until I got here (in this sense, yes until I arrived. However, in looking at that first phrase from «Le Petit Nicholas» «Que faisiez-vous, avant que je n’arrive?» --> What did you do before that I can't?
Without knowing the exact context of the initial phrase from the story, there are several different meanings as can be seen from the definitions.
I do hope that this is helpful to you and that it does not further cloud the issue.
The take away here is this: while the most obvious meaning is possibly the correct sense, there are other possible meanings to keep in mind within the context of the story.
Bonne chance

Donald

Kwiziq community member

12 September 2017

12/09/17

Ron: Votre explanation était fantastique!! J'ai toujours du mal avec arriver surtout quand on fait reference à quelque chose qui est passé. (Faut-il qu'on utilise un après dans la phrase précédent?) Dans tous les cas, peut-être on pourrait substituer le verbe lorsqu'on veut-dire "manage or get by". Merci d'avoir m'aider. Don

Ron

Kwiziq community member

12 September 2017

12/09/17

Bonjour Donald,
Merci d'avoir me donné votre appréciation de mon explication. Je suis vraiment ravi que vous en avez bénéficié bien.
Bonne journée

Ron

Kwiziq community member

13 September 2017

13/09/17

Pouvez-vous nous donnez un exemple de quoi vous parlez avec cette phrase-ci: «Faut-il qu'on utilise un après dans la phrase précédent?». Je n'ai pas d'idée du sens de votre question.

Ron

Kwiziq community member

13 September 2017

13/09/17

Bonjour Donald,
Ah. . .il m'a pris un peu de temps de comprendre votre question. . . . quand on fait reference à quelque chose qui est passé. ---> when we are referring to something that happened. En fait, non, il ne faut pas user le mot «un» dans votre phrase.
Si on a dit «quand on fait UN reference à quelque chose qui est passé», la sense de la phrase a changé ---> When there is a reference to something that happened.
Il est possible d'user «un» mais il n'est pas nécessaire.

Donald

Kwiziq community member

15 September 2017

15/09/17

Maintenant, je comprends ce que vous avez écrit. J'ai voulu substituer le verbe lorsqu'on a utilisé le verbe arriver. Donc, vous avez utilisé la phrase . J'ai voulu savoir si je pourrais substituer le verbe se débrouiller au lieu d'en utilisant le verbe arriver. Je dirais par example J'espère que je vais s'y débrouiller. Je pense que je parle n'importe quoi.



Ron

Kwiziq community member

15 September 2017

15/09/17

Bonjour Donald,
Merci d'avoir me répondu. Je comprends bien ce que vous avez dit.
Bonne journée.

William

Kwiziq community member

5 July 2017

1 reply

Avant que + ne expletif + subjunctive

I realise that this is a question about "avant que + ne expletif + subjunctive" but if the subject is the same in both clauses can we not also use "avant de venir" instead? Avant que je ne vienne, je dois acheter des fleurs. or Avant de venir, je dois acheter ds fleurs.

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

5 July 2017

5/07/17

Bonjour William,

Yes, you can IRL, but in the kwizzes on this lesson, you can't. :-)

William

Kwiziq community member

21 May 2017

1 reply

Different grammar for "après que" and "avant que"?

Après que uses the indicative while the avant que uses the "ne" plus subjunctive. They appear to express similar thought, after and before. Perhaps there is a difference sense in French. Thoughts.

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

22 May 2017

22/05/17

Bonjour William,

They seem similar, but they're not: "after you do something" is a factual statement, because it has already happened. In contrast, "before you do something" is a hypothesis: it may or may not happen. Therefore French requires the indicative with the factual après que, but the subjunctive with the hypothetical avant que.

Teresa

Kwiziq community member

15 April 2017

2 replies

I'm confused about the difference in using "avant que" et "quand".

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

18 April 2017

18/04/17

Bonjour Teresa !

There are two distinct expressions in French, and therefore don't behave in the same manner.
"Avant que" expresses an action taking place *after* the main clause: Le Subjonctif implies there's a doubt as to whether this action will take place, as it hasn't happened yet.
Whereas "quand" expresses a simultaneity, hence it being more assured and therefore followed by L'Indicatif mood.
Other expressions behaving like "quand" would be: "lorsque" (when), pendant que (while), une fois que (once), etc...

I hope that's helpful!

Teresa

Kwiziq community member

18 April 2017

18/04/17

Thank you. I'm sorry my question was so general, but somehow it submitted before I was finished writing. In my textbook, I see "On ira au cinéma quand on finira nos devoirs." It just seemed so different from the English that it threw me.

Susan

Kwiziq community member

16 November 2016

1 reply

If you don't use the, "ne," with "avant que," do you still

use the subjunctive or the indicative?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

18 November 2016

18/11/16

Bonjour Susan !

Yes, you do :)
Although in current speech, the "ne explétif" tends to be dropped with no consequence to the meaning of the sentence, the use of Le Subjonctif is compulsory, as in both cases, the phrase "avant que" still carries the sense of what is expressed here is uncertain to happen, as it hasn't happened yet.

I hope that's helpful Susan!
À bientôt !

marilyn

Kwiziq community member

29 February 2016

1 reply

Why is ne used with the expression avant que? What fuction does it have?

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

29 February 2016

29/02/16

Bonjour Marilyn,

This is called the ne explétif - it's an optional word that emphasizes the negative meaning of the verb or expression that precedes it. You can read more about it here: https://www.french-test.com/my-languages/french/glossary/139
Clever stuff underway!