Avant que + ne explétif + Le Subjonctif = Before I do

Look at these sentences:

Avant que nous ne commencions, je voudrais vous remercier.
Before we start, I would like to thank you.

Il viendra te voir avant que tu ne partes.
He'll come and see you before you leave.

Avant que je n'aille chez Paula, je dois acheter des fleurs.
Before I go to Paula's, I have to get some flowers.

Tu es arrivé avant que je n'aie fini mes devoirs.
You arrived before I finished my homework.

 

To express before + verb (= before you do this) in French is a bit more complicated:

avant que + subject + ne explétif + the verb in  Subjonctif présent or  Subjonctif passé.

 

Note that in speech, the ne explétif can be dropped.

Il viendra te voir avant que tu ne partes.

 

See also Understanding the 'ne' explétif 

and Après que + L'Indicatif = After + verb

as well as other similar expressions using subordinating conjunctions:

À moins que + ne explétif + Le Subjonctif = Unless you do

De peur que + ne explétif + Le Subjonctif = For fear that

Sans que (+ ne explétif) + Le Subjonctif = Without doing

 

Examples and resources

Je dois me dépêcher avant qu'ils ne soient en retard.
I have to hurry before they're late.


Tu es arrivé avant que je n'aie fini mes devoirs.
You arrived before I finished my homework.


Avant que vous ne m'interrompiez, laissez-moi vous dire quelque chose. 
Before you interrupt me, let me tell you something.


Avant que nous ne commencions, je voudrais vous remercier.
Before we start, I would like to thank you.


Avant que je n'aille chez Paula, je dois acheter des fleurs.
Before I go to Paula's, I have to get some flowers.


Il viendra te voir avant que tu ne partes.
He'll come and see you before you leave.


Q&A Forum 11 questions, 22 answers

MichelleC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Avant que question

Is this also used if you want to use "before I'd do that" in a sense of "I'd never do that". I don't know if this makes sense, I mean like "I'd die before I'd do that". Or would that be a hypothetical clause?

Asked 8 months ago
Phoebe SparrowC1Kwiziq community member

This phrase is better said this way: I’d die before I did that. Or in French « Je mourrais avant que je ne le fasse. »  or I’d die before I did such a thing. « Je mourrais avant que je ne fasse une telle chose. »

MichelleC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Well, yes, it is perhaps better said in the conditional (in English) but I rarely hear it used that way outside of written works. The perhaps not quite correct form I used as an example is what I'm used to hearing and saying. 

Thank you for the answer, though. Good riming, though I by now would have guessed that you'd express it exactly as you did in your example, as I just started tackling the C1 assignments again. I'm afraid that I just started using Si clauses to get the same point across without avant que in the mean time.

Avant que question

Is this also used if you want to use "before I'd do that" in a sense of "I'd never do that". I don't know if this makes sense, I mean like "I'd die before I'd do that". Or would that be a hypothetical clause?

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ChC1Kwiziq community member

audio

"Faites-la sortir avant qu'elle ne fasse un scandale." It was one of the test questions. The audio seems off to me at "fasse un". There's no reporting button for check audio (and anyway maybe I'm wrong).
Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq team member

Hi ch,

If you let me know where you found this sentence , I will try and check it out for you.

Ch asked:View original

audio

"Faites-la sortir avant qu'elle ne fasse un scandale." It was one of the test questions. The audio seems off to me at "fasse un". There's no reporting button for check audio (and anyway maybe I'm wrong).

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PaulC1Kwiziq community member

Avant de

I see in the lesson example you say avant que je n aille chez Paula. Would it be better to say avant d aller chez Paula 
Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Both are possible. Using "avant de" it isn't clear what the subject is, while "avant que" does mention the subject and is more explicit. 
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
But, of course, with "avant de" the subject would be me tioned in the main clause. 

Avant de

I see in the lesson example you say avant que je n aille chez Paula. Would it be better to say avant d aller chez Paula 

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MaryC1Kwiziq community member

I thought that the "ne" was not necessary even in written text. I thought that the Acadamie Française changed it.

Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Mary, 

Having done some research with other teachers in France , I am afraid that in written form the 'ne' is still very much de rigueur.

It is explétif (optional) in a few cases like after certain expressions like 'à moins que', 'avant que''sans que' and some verbs like 'craindre que', 'redouter que'  but even the Académie française say at it is de meilleure languebetter French ) to use it in written form.

Just a few examples to illustrate the point, others will be found in the lesson above and other links.

J'irai le voir à moins qu'il (ne) pleuve = I will go and see him unless it rains.

Je te le donnerai avant que tu (ne) partes. I'll give it to you before you leave.

Il fait ce qu'il veut sans que personne (ne) puisse l'arrêter. = He does what he wants without anyone being able to stop him.

Je crains qu'il (ne) mente. = I fear he is lying.

Elle redoute que son projet (ne) soit pas accepté.= She fears that her project may not be accepted.

Hope this helps!

MaryC1Kwiziq community member
Thank you so much. It was wishful thinking on my part, although I was under the impression that you did not have to use the "ne" now.  Thank you again.  I am enjoying your lessons.  Every day I find out something more that I don't know.  Mary

I thought that the "ne" was not necessary even in written text. I thought that the Acadamie Française changed it.

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RyC1Kwiziq community member

Question about Avant Que

Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

Hi Ry,

Avant que always takes the subjunctive, whether there is a change in subject or not. Note, that this isn't in contradiction to your rules.

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

RyC1Kwiziq community member

I was taught at school that Avant que takes subjunctive only when there is a change of subject. 

This is also confirmed here:

2-Deux sujets identiques+deux actions différentes=avant de+infinitif
Il fait sa toilette avant de prendre son petit déjeuner.


3-Deux sujets différents+deux actions différentes=avant que+subjonctif
Sandra est rentrée avant que la pluie commence à tomber.

However, it seems that in the examples on this website, Avant que always takes the subjunctive, regardless of whether there is a change in subject. 

For example: Avant que je n'aille chez Paula, je dois acheter des fleurs.

(Before I go to Paula's, I have to get some flowers)


What is the rule here? Or are both accepted? 

Question about Avant Que

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ChrisC1Kwiziq community member

Que faisiez-vous, avant que je n’arrive?

This is from a Le Petit Nicholas story. Is the second phrase identical to "avant que je ne sois arrivé?" The meaning is clearly "before I arrived". Thanks!
Asked 2 years ago
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Bonjour Chris, Keeping in mind that «arriver» has many senses in French, let's look at a few: 1) [train, visiteur, courrier] to arrive ⇒ Il arrive à Paris à 8 h. He gets to Paris at 8., He arrives in Paris at 8. j'arrive! I'm coming!, coming! en arriver à faire -- to end up doing, to get to the point of doing 2) (= survenir) to happen ⇒ Ce sont des choses qui arrivent. These things happen. ⇒ C'est arrivé quand? When did it happen? 3) arriver à qn --> to happen to sb ⇒ Qu'est-ce qui est arrivé à Christian? What happened to Christian? arriver à (sujet chose) [date, étape] to reach arriver à terme [contrat] to come to an end arriver à échéance to fall due 4) (= réussir) arriver à [perfection, but] to reach, to achieve arriver à faire qch to manage to do sth ⇒ J'espère que je vais y arriver. I hope I'm going to manage it. Given these various definitions, to me it is not obvious the meaning is «before I arrived" So here is another possible translation for that phrase --> until I got here (in this sense, yes until I arrived. However, in looking at that first phrase from «Le Petit Nicholas» «Que faisiez-vous, avant que je n’arrive?» --> What did you do before that I can't? Without knowing the exact context of the initial phrase from the story, there are several different meanings as can be seen from the definitions. I do hope that this is helpful to you and that it does not further cloud the issue. The take away here is this: while the most obvious meaning is possibly the correct sense, there are other possible meanings to keep in mind within the context of the story. Bonne chance
DonaldC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Ron: Votre explanation était fantastique!! J'ai toujours du mal avec arriver surtout quand on fait reference à quelque chose qui est passé. (Faut-il qu'on utilise un après dans la phrase précédent?) Dans tous les cas, peut-être on pourrait substituer le verbe lorsqu'on veut-dire "manage or get by". Merci d'avoir m'aider. Don
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Bonjour Donald, Merci d'avoir me donné votre appréciation de mon explication. Je suis vraiment ravi que vous en avez bénéficié bien. Bonne journée
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Pouvez-vous nous donnez un exemple de quoi vous parlez avec cette phrase-ci: «Faut-il qu'on utilise un après dans la phrase précédent?». Je n'ai pas d'idée du sens de votre question.
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Bonjour Donald, Ah. . .il m'a pris un peu de temps de comprendre votre question. . . . quand on fait reference à quelque chose qui est passé. ---> when we are referring to something that happened. En fait, non, il ne faut pas user le mot «un» dans votre phrase. Si on a dit «quand on fait UN reference à quelque chose qui est passé», la sense de la phrase a changé ---> When there is a reference to something that happened. Il est possible d'user «un» mais il n'est pas nécessaire.
DonaldC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Maintenant, je comprends ce que vous avez écrit. J'ai voulu substituer le verbe lorsqu'on a utilisé le verbe arriver. Donc, vous avez utilisé la phrase . J'ai voulu savoir si je pourrais substituer le verbe se débrouiller au lieu d'en utilisant le verbe arriver. Je dirais par example J'espère que je vais s'y débrouiller. Je pense que je parle n'importe quoi.
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Bonjour Donald, Merci d'avoir me répondu. Je comprends bien ce que vous avez dit. Bonne journée.

Que faisiez-vous, avant que je n’arrive?

This is from a Le Petit Nicholas story. Is the second phrase identical to "avant que je ne sois arrivé?" The meaning is clearly "before I arrived". Thanks!

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William C1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Avant que + ne expletif + subjunctive

I realise that this is a question about "avant que + ne expletif + subjunctive" but if the subject is the same in both clauses can we not also use "avant de venir" instead? Avant que je ne vienne, je dois acheter des fleurs. or Avant de venir, je dois acheter ds fleurs.
Asked 2 years ago
LauraKwiziq team member
Bonjour William, Yes, you can IRL, but in the kwizzes on this lesson, you can't. :-)

Avant que + ne expletif + subjunctive

I realise that this is a question about "avant que + ne expletif + subjunctive" but if the subject is the same in both clauses can we not also use "avant de venir" instead? Avant que je ne vienne, je dois acheter des fleurs. or Avant de venir, je dois acheter ds fleurs.

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WilliamC1Kwiziq community member

Different grammar for "après que" and "avant que"?

Après que uses the indicative while the avant que uses the "ne" plus subjunctive. They appear to express similar thought, after and before. Perhaps there is a difference sense in French. Thoughts.
Asked 2 years ago
LauraKwiziq team member
Bonjour William, They seem similar, but they're not: "after you do something" is a factual statement, because it has already happened. In contrast, "before you do something" is a hypothesis: it may or may not happen. Therefore French requires the indicative with the factual après que, but the subjunctive with the hypothetical avant que.

Different grammar for "après que" and "avant que"?

Après que uses the indicative while the avant que uses the "ne" plus subjunctive. They appear to express similar thought, after and before. Perhaps there is a difference sense in French. Thoughts.

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TeresaC1Kwiziq community member

I'm confused about the difference in using "avant que" et "quand".

Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member
Bonjour Teresa ! There are two distinct expressions in French, and therefore don't behave in the same manner. "Avant que" expresses an action taking place *after* the main clause: Le Subjonctif implies there's a doubt as to whether this action will take place, as it hasn't happened yet. Whereas "quand" expresses a simultaneity, hence it being more assured and therefore followed by L'Indicatif mood. Other expressions behaving like "quand" would be: "lorsque" (when), pendant que (while), une fois que (once), etc... I hope that's helpful!
TeresaC1Kwiziq community member
Thank you. I'm sorry my question was so general, but somehow it submitted before I was finished writing. In my textbook, I see "On ira au cinéma quand on finira nos devoirs." It just seemed so different from the English that it threw me.

I'm confused about the difference in using "avant que" et "quand".

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Susan C1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

If you don't use the, "ne," with "avant que," do you still

use the subjunctive or the indicative?
Asked 3 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member
Bonjour Susan ! Yes, you do :) Although in current speech, the "ne explétif" tends to be dropped with no consequence to the meaning of the sentence, the use of Le Subjonctif is compulsory, as in both cases, the phrase "avant que" still carries the sense of what is expressed here is uncertain to happen, as it hasn't happened yet. I hope that's helpful Susan! À bientôt !

If you don't use the, "ne," with "avant que," do you still

use the subjunctive or the indicative?

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Marilyn C1Kwiziq community member

Why is ne used with the expression avant que? What fuction does it have?

Asked 3 years ago
LauraKwiziq team member
Bonjour Marilyn, This is called the ne explétif - it's an optional word that emphasizes the negative meaning of the verb or expression that precedes it. You can read more about it here: https://www.french-test.com/my-languages/french/glossary/139

Why is ne used with the expression avant que? What fuction does it have?

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