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What are French Conjunctive Phrases? Posted by on Jan 19, 2015 in Grammar

Two weeks ago, we went over les conjonctions de la langue française, including les conjonctions de coordination (car, donc, ensuite, et, mais, or, ni, ou, puis) and les conjonctions de subordination (comme, lorsque, puisque, quand, que, si, quioque). You can go back and look over that lesson here.

Today, we will focus on les locutions conjonctives, or conjunctive phrases. Conjunctive phrases are simply two or more words that work together as a conjunction and most conjunctive phrases act as subordinating conjunctions in French.

However, there’s a reason I didn’t group conjunctive phrases into the last lesson. And this is because les locutions conjonctives can be quite tricky. Why? Well, because a good amount of them require the subjunctive. For those who are not familiar with the subjunctive mood in French, it is a verb form that is used to convey subjectivity or uncertainty. I won’t go into the details of le subjonctif here, but you can almost always recognize it because it is introduced by the word que (that). And guess what? French conjunctive phrases often end in que. So there is quite a lot of overlap between using les locutions conjonctives and le subjonctif.

Anyway, I’ll just mark the conjunctive phrases that must be followed by a subjunctive verb by an asterix and will go into the details of the subjunctive in a following post.

Here are some of the most common conjunctive phrases in French, as well as their English translations:

*afin que – so that

ainsi que – just as, so as

alors que – while, where as

*à moins que – unless (This conjunction also uses the ne explétif, which just means that you may see a “ne” after the phrase that does NOT function as a negative.)

après que – after, when

*avant que – before (This conjunction also uses the ne explétif, which just means that you may see a “ne” after the phrase that does NOT function as a negative.)

*bien que – although

*de façon que – in such a way that

*de manière que – so that

de même que – just as

depuis que – since

*de sorte que – as soon as

*encore que – even though

*jusqu’à ce que – until

*malgré que – despite that, although

parce que – because

pendant que – while

*pour que – so that

*quoi que – whatever, no matter what

*sans que – without (This conjunction also uses the ne explétif, which just means that you may see a “ne” after the phrase that does NOT function as a negative.)

tandis que – while, where as

tant que – as long as

vu que – seeing as

Phew. That’s quite a list, although this list is nowhere near exhaustive. These are just the most common conjunctive phrases that you will come across, although you will surely come across others. And notice that the majority of them do take the subjunctive.

Here are some examples:

Je dois aller au supermarché à moins que ton frère veuille y aller à ma place.

I have to go to the supermarket, unless your brother wants to go for me instead. (Notice that veuille is the subjunctive of the verb vouloir.)

 Elle est grande bien que ses parents soient de petite taille.

She is tall even though her parents are of smaller stature. (Notice that soient is the subjunctive of the verb être.)

C’est le meilleur jour depuis que je suis ici.

It’s the best day since I’m here.

Il a fait un voyage sans qu’elle le sache.

He went on a trip without her knowing about it. (Notice that sache is the subjunctive of the verb savoir. Also, because the pronoun elle starts with a vowel, it becomes linked to the que.)

Appelle-moi après que tu auras acheté le gâteau.

Call me after you buy the cake.

Can you come up with some other examples in the comments using some of the conjunctive phrases listed above? If you want to give it a try, pick one of the conjunctive phrases that uses the subjunctive mood and incorporate it into your sentence.

 À la prochaine!

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About the Author: Elizabeth Schmermund

Bonjour tout le monde! I'm a freelance writer, doctoral student, mom, and Francophile. I'm excited to share some of my experiences living in France, as well as the cultural nuances that I've learned being married to a Frenchman, with all of you. To find out more about me, feel free to check out my website at http://www.imaginistwriter.com. A la prochaine!


  1. Shannon:

    Love this post!!!

    • Elizabeth Schmermund:

      @Shannon Thank you, Shannon!

  2. AA:

    C’est le meilleur jour depuis que je suis ici.
    Is this correct? There’s no subjonctif after depuis que in this sentence.

    Also, I would love a post about subjonctif!

    • Elizabeth Schmermund:

      @AA You are correct, AA! I’ll work on a lesson on the subjunctive soon, although I may have to spread it over several posts.

  3. jt:

    I would like to do a “Home Stay”in France this year . Can you suggest where I can start?
    Thank you.. John (jt)