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  5. J'entends que - can it be sub…


J'entends que - can it be subjunctive?

«J'entends qu'il sait jouer la guitare».

«J'entends qu'il y ait un elephant rose sur la route».

I will write in both English and French this time...

If I'm not mistaken, j'entends que generally follows the indicative. When we talk about dreams «je rêve d'une maison qui est très grande», «je rêve d'une maison qui soit toute noire», we use the indicative if we know what we dream of exists, and we use the subjunctive if we aren't certain of the existance. Does the same rule apply for the two examples listed at the top? If what I hear I don't believe to be true (the second example), do I use the subjunctive? Or is it always indicative regardless?

Si je ne me suis pas trompé, en general, «j'entends que» est suivi par l'indicatif. Quand on parle des rêves «je rêve d'une maison qui est très grande», «je rêve d'une maison qui soit toute noire», on utilise l'indicatif si on sait que le rêve existe, et on utilise le subjonctif si on n'est pas sûr de son existence. Est-ce que la même règle peut être appliquée pour les deux exemples listés au sommet ? Si ce que j'entends, je ne crois pas d'être vrai (le deuxieme exemple), on utilise le subjonctif ? Ou, il reste l'indicatif toujours ?

July 24, 2017



Always indicative if 'entendre' means 'to hear'.

J'entends qu'il sait jouer de la guitare (we do not play an instrument, in French, we play of the instrument)

J'entends qu'il y a un elephant rose sur la route.


Ok, so indicative always, no matter whether or not we believe to be true... thanks


If there is a doubt, we can indicate it in another way. For example: 'J'entends des bruits comme s'il y avait un éléphant sur la route' (the colour is hard to hear).


In English, we use ''I hear that there is a pink elephant on the road'' to indicate it's what someone told us, I don't mean what we're actually hearing through our ears. Maybe when directly translated it becomes incorrect?


Ah, I see, now. 'J'entends' would not be the most common way to say that. More probably: 'J'ai ouï dire/J'ai entendu dire qu'il y avait un éléphant rose sur la route' or 'Il paraît qu'il y a un éléphant rose sur la route'.

'J'ai ouï dire' is old fashioned (see my other comments) and only used for fun. 'Il paraît que' (literally: 'It appears that') is also used to mean: 'People say that'.


Ok, will mostly use j'ai entendu dire then, also observe if I see anyone use something else. Il paraît doesn't always prompt the subjunctive? It's not very logical if it does, but you haven't used it and it appears in this list...



In that list, it is in the category 'Negative or interrogatory statements that need the subjunctive'. However, in the meaning of 'people say that...', it is almost impossible to make an interrogative or negative sentence with 'il paraît que...' (it would not sound informal any more, so it would lose all purpose).

'Il paraît que' is much more common than 'J'ai entendu dire que' (which is more formal) in that meaning.


Oops... sorry yes, you are right, stupid on my part. Ok, I think I've got it now... will keep listening, I think that's the best way to really get a feel for the language.


Yes, it is definitely the best way.


The only case I can think of where 'J'entends que' would be followed with the subjunctive, is when 'entendre' has another meaning, hard to explain in English, and probably too advanced for beginners (most native French people do not even know alternate meanings to 'entendre').

Ex: 'J'entends que tout soit parfait pour demain' = 'I want everything to be perfect by tomorrow.' 'Entendre, veut dire encore, Vouloir, avoir intention' (Dictionnaire de l'Académie française, 1st Edition, 1694).

The original meaning of 'entendre' is 'understand', and it is still used in this meaning formally and in literature. The original verb that meant 'hear' in French was 'ouïr', but it is now almost totally obsolete (we still use the expression 'ouï-dire', though: http://www.wordreference.com/fren/ou%C3%AF-dire); 'entendre' eventually replaced it.

  • Comprendre (FR) = Comprender (ES) = Comprehend (EN)
  • Entendre (FR, formal) = Entender (ES) = Understand (EN)
  • Ouïr (FR, obsolete) = Oír (ES) = Hear (EN)
  • Écouter (FR) = Escuchar (ES) = Listen to (EN)

It was rather simple until 'ouïr' became obsolete and was replaced with 'entendre' in French, and 'comprendre' became the main way to say 'understand'.


A negative or interrogative sentence having the structure:

verb phrase + que (acting as a conjunction) + verb phrase

is put in the subjunctive mood in French after the following verbs:

assurer, avouer, croire, conclure, convenir, conjecturer, certifier, dire, déclarer, démontrer, espérer, entendre, être sûr, gager, juger, jurer, oublier, promettre, penser, parier, prouver, prédire, présager, présumer, savoir, soutenir, supposer, voir.


This does not always apply, not even often, and with several of these verbs, negative or interrogative sentences will sound weird. Also, there is often a way around.


'Tu penses qu'il est content. Tu ne penses pas qu'il soit content. Penses-tu qu'il soit content ?' However, informally, the indicative will be used in all cases, especially because the colloquial construction will be used for the question, so it will be: 'Tu penses qu'il est content ?'

'Promettre' cannot be used with the present (except when it means 'swear, certify', but that is an incorrect usage of the verb), so there is no reason to use the subjunctive in the negative. It is actually much more complex. 'Il a promis qu'il viendrait. Il promet qu'il viendra.' So conditional or future, depending on the tense of 'promettre'. 'Il n'a pas promis qu'il viendrait. Il ne promet pas qu'il viendra.' The tenses remain the same in the negative. And in all cases, it is actually simpler to say 'de venir' instead of 'que + pronoun + venir conjugated'.

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