French Sentence Structure – Jusqu’à ce que

They laughed until their mom told them to go to bed.Ils ont rigolé jusqu’à ce que leur maman leur dise de se coucher.

Comparing French and English Sentence Structure

It can be interesting to look at French sentences and their English translations while comparing the two. Once you have identified corresponding words, you will realize how many similarities there are French and English. You’ll also notice some big differences, and those are worth examining more closely.

Ils = They

Ils is a third person plural pronoun that means they. Ils can refer either to a mixed or all masculine group.

Lesson:  French subject pronouns

ont rigolé = laughed

ONT is the third person plural conjugation of the verb avoir in the present tense. In this sentence, it is the helping verb for the verb RIGOLER – past participle RIGOLÉ. The tense is the passé composé, which is used to talk about something that happened or was completed at some point in the past.

jusqu’à ce que = until

Jusqu’à means until, but when it is followed by another subject, leur maman in this sentence, you need to add ce que and use the subjunctive. Jusqu’à ce que is a subordinating conjunction.

Exercise: Subordinating conjunctions with the subjunctive

List: Subordinating conjunctions list

Lesson: Jusqu’à ce que, Dès que, Depuis que

Lesson: Jusqu’à ce que + subjunctive

Lesson: French subjunctive mood

leur maman = their mom

In this part of the sentence, LEUR is a possessive adjective which means their. LEUR is used for both masculine and feminine singular nouns, in this case MAMAN, which is feminine.

Lesson: Possessive adjectives

leur = them

This time, LEUR is an indirect object pronoun which means them. Notice that in French, pronouns are placed before helping verbs in the passé composé. It can be confusing, because leur maman has a completely different function. Be sure to check out my lesson on indirect object pronouns if you find this difficult to understand.

Lesson: Indirect and direct object pronouns

dise = told

Dise is the third person singular conjugation of the verb dire in the present subjunctive. Remember to always use the subjunctive after jusqu’à ce que. The present subjunctive is applicable in this sentence because it begins in the passé composé: Ils ont rigolé.

Chart: Present subjunctive endings

de = this is an extra word that we don’t need in English

The verb dire requires de when it is followed by an infinitive, in this sentence that is se coucher. No word is necessary in English, but it’s very important in French. Check out my list of verbs that are followed by de + infinitive.

List: French verbs followed by de + infinitive

se coucher = to go to bed

Se coucher is a reflexive verb. This means that the action is something people do to themselves.

Lesson: Reflexive verbs