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Le temps que + Subjonctif = By the time that...

Look at these sentences:

Le temps que nous arrivions, mon avion était déjà parti !By the time we arrived, my plane was already gone!

Le temps que je finisse de manger, il avait déjà bu une bouteille entière.By the time I finished eating, he had already drunk a whole bottle.

J'aurai fini de vérifier mes emails le temps qu'elle prenne sa douche.I'll have finished checking my emails by the time she takes a shower.

Je ne comprends pas le temps que ça lui prend de se préparer !I don't understand the time she takes to get ready!

To express an action that takes place by the time / in the time another action has happened, you will use :

le temps que + verb in Le Subjonctif


ATTENTION:

Don't get mixed up with sentences like "le temps qu'il fait" (lit. the weather [that] it does) or "le temps que ça prend" meaning the time (it takes).
Here the verb is in L'Indicatif, NOT Le Subjonctif, and it does not mean "by the time...": 

Je me demande le temps qu'il fait.I wonder what the weather is like.

Je ne comprends pas le temps que ça lui prend de se préparer !I don't understand the time she takes to get ready!

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Le temps que nous arrivions, mon avion était déjà parti !By the time we arrived, my plane was already gone!
J'aurai fini de vérifier mes emails le temps qu'elle prenne sa douche.I'll have finished checking my emails by the time she takes a shower.
Je ne comprends pas le temps que ça lui prend de se préparer !I don't understand the time she takes to get ready!
Je me demande le temps qu'il fait.I wonder what the weather is like.
Le temps que je finisse de manger, il avait déjà bu une bouteille entière.By the time I finished eating, he had already drunk a whole bottle.

Q&A Forum 3 questions, 6 answers

JaniceC1Kwiziq community member

Past or present for this expression?

Hello, I've just done the question

How would you say "By the time he came, I had fixed the machine." ?

 for which the correct answer was...

Le temps qu'il vienne, j'avais réparé la machine.
And not ‘le temps qu’il soit venu, j’avais réparé la machine’ ?

For me, this is a past event and ‘came’ is the past tense but in French you actually need to say « by the time he comes, I had fixed the machine » in English (speaking, at least)?

Thanks :-)

Asked 1 month ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Actually, in English I would use the past perfect tense, but your French version looks OK.

By the time that he came, I had fixed the machine. -- Le temps qu'il vienne, j'avais réparé la machine.

AlanC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

The rules for the subjunctive are a bit special. I think you could use the imperfect subjunctive here, but since that is only used in formal writing, the present subjunctive is used instead. You don't use the past subjunctive because he came after you had fixed the machine. 

Personally, I wouldn't use the past perfect ("by the time he had come") here, but I think some people might, and the equivalent in French would, I suppose, be the past subjunctive (or pluperfect subjunctive). I think I'd find it more acceptable with "had arrived" instead of "had come", and that might also be true of arriver

It would be helpful to have a lesson explaining this kind of thing. There is a lesson on the past subjunctive, but it just explains how it's formed, not when it should be used.

Past or present for this expression?

Hello, I've just done the question

How would you say "By the time he came, I had fixed the machine." ?

 for which the correct answer was...

Le temps qu'il vienne, j'avais réparé la machine.
And not ‘le temps qu’il soit venu, j’avais réparé la machine’ ?

For me, this is a past event and ‘came’ is the past tense but in French you actually need to say « by the time he comes, I had fixed the machine » in English (speaking, at least)?

Thanks :-)

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ShreyA1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Se préparer pour sortir (Fill-in-the-Blanks Kwiz)

Bonjour Madame Cécile !

This question is regarding the Fill-in-the-blanks worksheet issued last week on Le Subjonctif Présent.

https://french.kwiziq.com/blog/se-preparer-pour-sortir-subjunctive-practice/

The following sentences are mentioned from this test ->

1.Il faut encore que je défasse mes bigoudis,et je vais avoir besoin que tu ‘viennes’ m'aider à fermer ma robe. 

2.J'arrive. Ça risqué d'être juste, le temps que nous ‘trouvions’ un taxi,mais il y a toujours un petit délai avant que le rideau ne se lève.

3. Disons qu'il faudrait que nous partions d'ici un quart d'heure grand maximum,en espérant qu'il n'y ‘ait  ’pas d'embouteillages sur la route !

Here, I would like to understand why Le Subjonctif Présent has been used in the three blanks which have the answers-

viennes, trouvions and ait.

What was the judging factor that prompted to use this particular tense  ?

Is that due to the expressions mentioned before the blanks ?  How are they influencing the tense ?

Merci encore Madame pour répondre à ma question.

Je vous remercierais du fond de mon cœur .

Bonne journée!

Asked 4 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Shrey, 

For the first case take a look at the following Kwiziq lesson -

https://french.kwiziq.com/revision/grammar/how-to-use-avoir-besoin-que-subjonctif-to-need-someone-to-do-something

For the second case , take a look at this Kwiziq lesson -

https://french.kwiziq.com/revision/grammar/how-to-say-by-the-time-one-le-temps-que-subjonctif-subjunctive-mood

For the third case, it is because of ‘espérer que’ which normally takes the subjunctive in negative and interrogative sentences and only sometimes in the affirmative like this one, but as the exercise was about using the subjunctive, ‘ait’ is correct but the future ‘aura’ would have been correct to if the doubt was eliminated.

Hope this helps!

 

CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Shrey, 

Not in this case it's just the way it is...

When French people speak they don't have the time to think whether a particular emotion calls for the subjunctive they just know what sounds right and you have to get used to the fact that some verbs and expressions are followed by the subjunctive.

The only time you would consider the doubt emotion is in the final case whether to use a future or a subjunctive to convey a precise idea.

Hope this helps!

ShreyA1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Merci encore Madame Cécile for providing links to the related grammar lessons.

However, after going through the notes, I have another related query ->

Why do the expressions “ avoir besoin que” and “ le temps que” require the subjunctive?

Do these expressions bring an interpretation of doubt, uncertainty, fear ?

Se préparer pour sortir (Fill-in-the-Blanks Kwiz)

Bonjour Madame Cécile !

This question is regarding the Fill-in-the-blanks worksheet issued last week on Le Subjonctif Présent.

https://french.kwiziq.com/blog/se-preparer-pour-sortir-subjunctive-practice/

The following sentences are mentioned from this test ->

1.Il faut encore que je défasse mes bigoudis,et je vais avoir besoin que tu ‘viennes’ m'aider à fermer ma robe. 

2.J'arrive. Ça risqué d'être juste, le temps que nous ‘trouvions’ un taxi,mais il y a toujours un petit délai avant que le rideau ne se lève.

3. Disons qu'il faudrait que nous partions d'ici un quart d'heure grand maximum,en espérant qu'il n'y ‘ait  ’pas d'embouteillages sur la route !

Here, I would like to understand why Le Subjonctif Présent has been used in the three blanks which have the answers-

viennes, trouvions and ait.

What was the judging factor that prompted to use this particular tense  ?

Is that due to the expressions mentioned before the blanks ?  How are they influencing the tense ?

Merci encore Madame pour répondre à ma question.

Je vous remercierais du fond de mon cœur .

Bonne journée!

Sign in to submit your answer

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MaryC1Kwiziq community member

past of subjunctive

When is the past subjunctive used in the 'by the time...", if ever.

Asked 4 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Mary, 

Here is the Kwiziq lesson on the past subjunctive with some examples of its use -

https://french.kwiziq.com/revision/grammar/conjugate-verbs-in-le-subjonctif-passe-compose

Also just to add it is not as widely used as the present subjunctive but you will encounter it more frequently in literature.

Hope this helps!

past of subjunctive

When is the past subjunctive used in the 'by the time...", if ever.

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