2

Normally "ne pas penser" is used with the subjunctive because it expresses doubt:

Je ne pense pas qu'il aille à la fête ce soir.

If I'm sure of the thing that I'm saying (in this case, I'm sure he's not going to the party), can I use the indicative? Does the answer differ for written and spoken language?

Je ne pense pas qu'il va aller à la fête ce soir.

3

The subjunctive version,

Je ne pense pas qu'il aille à la fête ce soir.

is in most cases used to inform your interlocutor, whom you believe made the wrong assumption, that he might have to think again.

Indicative versions are in general used when you simply state your opinion (tense doesn't matter much here) :

Je ne pense pas qu'il va à la fête ce soir.

Je ne pense pas qu'il ira à la fête ce soir.

Je ne pense pas qu'il va aller à la fête ce soir.

  • Are the indicative versions acceptable in written language? – user11550 Dec 13 '16 at 17:48
  • Je ne pense pas que ce soit interdit :-) Joke aside, it's more common to discuss concepts (often considered as hypotheses) in written language, so subjunctive might occur more often. – Stéphane Gimenez Dec 13 '16 at 19:05

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