Complete post:




“J'espère que tu travailles bien en classe…”

“I hope that you are working well in class…”

This morning we received an email from a listener regarding the verb espérer. The question was a simple one, but the answer is not so straightforward…

In lesson 55, someone says in conversation:

« j'espère qu'il va se rétablir… ”, but shouldn't the verb aller be in the subjunctive?…

Merci d'avance.

The question is a good one. After all, the subjunctive is used in French where we wonder about things, wish for things, expect things to happen, etc.

The verb espérer provokes frequent discussion about the verb which follows it: should that verb be in the indicative or subjunctive mood? (Remember that the indicative usually conveys "fact", whereas the subjunctive communicates emotion, desire, hypothesis, possibility, etc.)

In general, the following broad rules apply to the verb espérer:

  • Used in the affirmative, espérer is usually accompanied by the indicative:
    • J’espère que tu travailles bien en classe. I hope that you are working well in class.
    • J’espère qu’il viendra ce soir. I hope that he will come this evening.
    • J’espère qu’il se taira. I hope that he will be quiet.
  • It may, however, utilise the conditional where we are talking about something hypothetical:
    • J’espère qu’il n’hésiterait pas à se taire dans ce cas-là. I hope that he would not hesitate to be quiet in that case.
  • In the interrogative, where we are expression a possibility, the subjunctive may be used:
    • Espères-tu que Marie vienne ? Are you hoping that Marie will come?
    • Espérez-vous qu’il se taise ? Are you hoping that he will be quiet/say nothing?
  • However, we can also encounter the indicative or the conditional:
    • Espérez-vous qu’il se taira ? Are you hoping that he will be quiet?
    • Espériez-vous qu’il se tairait ? Were you hoping that he would be quiet?
  • In the imperative, we may meet either the indicative or the subjunctive:
    • Espérons qu’il ne l’ait pas déjà acheté. Let's hope that he has not already bought it.
    • Espérons qu’il s’en sortira. Let's hope that he will sort it out. (Ou… "… that he will get out of this fix (that he is in)")
    • Espérons qu’il s’en sorte. Let's hope that he will sort it out.
  • On the other hand, in the negative, we generally use the subjunctive:
    • Je n’espère pas qu’il se taise. I am not hoping that he will be quiet.
    • Je n’espère pas qu’il reparte. I am not hoping that he will leave again.
  • Écouter les exemples de phrases ci-dessus en cliquant sur le lien audio ci-après.

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