Jusqu'à ce que + Le Subjonctif = Until [someone] does [something]

Look at these sentences:

Ma mère me chantait des chansons jusqu'à ce que je m'endorme.
My mother used to sing to me until I fell asleep.

Il appellera jusqu'à ce qu'elle réponde.
He'll call until she answers.

J'attendrai jusqu'à ce qu'il ait terminé.
I'll wait until after he's finished.

On est restés à l'intérieur jusqu'à ce que la pluie s'arrête
We stayed inside until the rain stopped.

 

To express until [someone] does ... in French, you use:

jusqu'à ce que + subject + verb in Subjonctif présent or Subjonctif passé
Never use the ne explétif with jusqu'à ce que

 

When to use Subjonctif présent or Subjonctif passé?

Regardless of the tense used in the main clause, the question is whether the main clause action will go on until the action after jusqu'à ce que happens, or until it has happened and stopped:

* If it goes on until the moment the action happens, you'll use Subjonctif présent

Nous nous sommes embrassés jusqu'à ce que sa femme arrive.
We kissed until his wife arrived.


J'insisterai jusqu'à ce que tu ailles le voir.
I'll insist until you go and see him.

* If it goes on until after the action has happened and stopped, you'll use Subjonctif passé.
It's similar to the English construction: until after he's done this

Nous nous sommes embrassés jusqu'à ce que sa femme soit arrivée.
We kissed until after his wife had arrived.


J'insisterai jusqu'à ce que tu sois allée le voir.
I'll insist until you've gone and seen him.

 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

J'insisterai jusqu'à ce que tu sois allée le voir.
I'll insist until you've gone and seen him.


Nous nous sommes embrassés jusqu'à ce que sa femme soit arrivée.
We kissed until after his wife had arrived.


Nous nous sommes embrassés jusqu'à ce que sa femme arrive.
We kissed until his wife arrived.


Elle lui a rendu visite jusqu'à ce qu'il aille mieux.
She visited him until he felt better.


Il appellera jusqu'à ce qu'elle réponde.
He'll call until she answers.


J'attendrai jusqu'à ce qu'il ait terminé.
I'll wait until after he's finished.


On est restés à l'intérieur jusqu'à ce que la pluie s'arrête
We stayed inside until the rain stopped.


J'insisterai jusqu'à ce que tu ailles le voir.
I'll insist until you go and see him.


Ma mère me chantait des chansons jusqu'à ce que je m'endorme.
My mother used to sing to me until I fell asleep.


Q&A Forum 8 questions, 21 answers

DraganaC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

2 Subjects -Subjonctif

Il a attendu jusqu’à ce qu’il doive partir.

If subjonctif requires 2 subjects- I assume that “he” waited until another “he” had to go?

Asked 1 month ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Dragana,

Most examples in this lesson use two separate subjects ( meaning different people)  but in the case of -

Il a attendu jusqu'à ce qu'il doive partir ( qu'il soit obligé de partir/ce qu'il soit prêt à partir), the 'il' represents the same person.

If you were talking about another person you would have to use a name to clarify what you were trying to say -

Il a attendu jusqu'à ce que Pierre doive partir = He waited until Pierre had to go

Hope this helps!

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

I don't know what you mean by "subjunctive requires two subjects". In the sentence you quote, the "he" is most likely the same person in either part of the sentence.

AlanC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

The "two subjects" rule is mentioned here, for example:

https://www.lawlessfrench.com/grammar/subjunctive/

But I think it only applies when the subjunctive could be easily avoided, if there were a single subject, by using an infinitive, for example. That doesn't seem to be the case here.

In the following example, from Advanced French Grammar by Monique L'Huillier, the two "elle"s must refer to different people.

Elle craignait qu'elle ne prenne froid. 

If it were the same person, you would say:

Elle craignait de prendre froid.

CécileKwiziq team member

Hi Alan, 

I have personally never heard of that 'two subjects' rule and I think I broke it with the example I gave. 

It is however useful as a 'rule of thumb' when you want to avoid the subjunctive and want to use the infinitive instead.

 

 

 

AlanC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Obviously there are different opinions on this.

https://french.kwiziq.com/questions/view/subjunctive-with-2-different-subjects

I suspect that calling it a rule is too simplistic, sometimes using the subjunctive with a single subject will be acceptable, sometimes it will seem odd. 

Your example doesn't break the rule, because it's not possible to use an infinitive instead. There is no prepositional equivalent for "jusqu'à ce que", since  "jusqu'à" + infinitive would mean "to the point of" rather than "until".

In fact, according to Monique L'Huillier, when the conjunction is a compound like "jusqu'à ce que", rather than just "que", you always have the option of using the subjunctive instead of the infinitive.

AlanC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

There's a similar rule described in Grevisse - Le Bon Usage. (La proposition infinitive - S1074, p1620/1 in the 13th edition.)

They distinguish  between cases where using the infinitive instead of a subordinate clause (not necessarily the subjunctive mood) is obligatory, and those where it's optional.

For example, it's optional after verbs of opinion such as penser or croire. However it's obligatory after verbs of desire or sentiment such as vouloir, aimer, craindre, and, notably, attendre.

CécileKwiziq team member

Hi Alan, 

I couldn't find this rule in my trusted 'Petit Grevisse' , however you wouldn't say-

Il a attendu jusqu'à devoir partir , as it is very stilted, you might want to say -

Il a attendu jusqu'à ce que ce soit l'heure de partir 

still using the subjunctive.

I have altered my answer to Dragana to help her with her query.

AlanC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hi Cécile, 

I had already edited my previous reply to explain why I think "jusqu'à" + infinitive can't be used, and therefore the subjunctive should be used in this case.

See also http://core.ecu.edu/forl/hennings/emploi.htm

2 Subjects -Subjonctif

Il a attendu jusqu’à ce qu’il doive partir.

If subjonctif requires 2 subjects- I assume that “he” waited until another “he” had to go?

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JohnC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Here's a sentence from the lesson - J'attendrai jusqu'à ce qu'il ait terminé. I'll wait until after he's finished. Why has 'after' been added.

Asked 10 months ago

Here's a sentence from the lesson - J'attendrai jusqu'à ce qu'il ait terminé. I'll wait until after he's finished. Why has 'after' been added.

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DianeC1Kwiziq community member

Could we have a comparison with 'juste à ce qui' on this page too please?

Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

There is no juste à ce qui, because the que is not a relative pronoun but a conjunction. It does not replace a noun, as a relative pronoun would.

It is the same que that appears in: J'aime que tu sois là.

DianeC1Kwiziq community member
Aha! Thanks Chris. (Could you put that on the page please?) Thanks for doing a brilliant job.
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Thanks for the flowers, Diane, it is good to know that my remarks sometimes help people.

I can't put stuff on the webpage because I am not part of the kwiziq team. But maybe someone of the team is going to read this.

Could we have a comparison with 'juste à ce qui' on this page too please?

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BillC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Bonsoir - is the following correct?

Je me reposerai ici jusqu'à ce que le temps que je doive partir.

Merci d'avance.

Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Bill,

"Je me reposerai ici jusqu'à ce que je doive partir."

is the correct sentence ....

BillC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Bonjour - does anyone know of a site where one can post sentences and have the grammar and structure checked?  As i practice writing I come up with sentences that I'm not sure are correct and i cannot always find the corresponding lesson for posting the question.  I'm wondering if anyone can provide some advice or is there a reliable tool that one can use for such a purpose?

Merci d'avance.

Bonsoir - is the following correct?

Je me reposerai ici jusqu'à ce que le temps que je doive partir.

Merci d'avance.

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TessaC1Kwiziq community member

I thought one did not use the subjunctive if it is je and je

Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
It isn't the subject (je) which determines whether the subjunctive is used or not. 
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
I have the uneasy feeling that I didn't understand your question properly. Can you repost it in some more detail?
SherryC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Tessa, I think I know what you're referring to, and it's a different circumstance. 

"When the subject of the subordinate clause introduced by the conjunction que is the same as that of the main clause, and the tense is the same, the infinitive must be used instead of the subjunctive." (Advanced French Grammar, L'Huillier) So "j'ai besoin de manger quelque chose" or "je tiens à partir à six heures." (L'Huillier) 

The same would apply to tu, elle, nous, etc., so "tu as besoin de manger...", "elle a besoin de manger...", "nous avons besoin de manger...", and so on. 

EDIT: But, "je tiens que tu partes à six heures." The subjects in the main clause and subordinate clause are different.

I thought one did not use the subjunctive if it is je and je

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MaxC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

arriver v. être

What's wrong with the answer "jusqu'à ce que tu arrives" versus your preference "jusqu'à ce que tu sois? 
Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

But I suspect that the question required a subjonctive passé?

Jusqu'à ce que tu sois arrivé. 

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
I would need the question to help you find a potential problem with the answer. 

arriver v. être

What's wrong with the answer "jusqu'à ce que tu arrives" versus your preference "jusqu'à ce que tu sois? 

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DonaldC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Je l'aiderai jusqu'à ce qu'elle puisse le faire toute seule

Pourrais-je utiliser <lui-même> au lieu de <toute seule> dans cette phrase?  Je n'ai jamais vu <toute seule> mais je le comprends.  Merci d'avance de m'avoir aidé.  Don
Asked 1 year ago
AurélieKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Bonjour Donald !

As it's a woman here, you could indeed use elle-même  :)

Je l'aiderai jusqu'à ce qu'elle puisse le faire elle-même.

I'd say the nuance is as follows:
toute seule = on her own, all by herself
elle-même = by herself

I hope that's helpful!
Bonne journée !

DonaldC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Merci Aurélie.  Vous m'avez aidé.  J'aime bien votre site.  Don

Je l'aiderai jusqu'à ce qu'elle puisse le faire toute seule

Pourrais-je utiliser <lui-même> au lieu de <toute seule> dans cette phrase?  Je n'ai jamais vu <toute seule> mais je le comprends.  Merci d'avance de m'avoir aidé.  Don

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ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Testing (posted from the bottom of the lesson page)

Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Apparently the fault is still not fixed because my question above does not have a message body.

-- Chris.

Testing (posted from the bottom of the lesson page)

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Getting that for you now.