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The Subjunctive Mood


The Subjunctive Mood shows that the action or state expressed by the verb is presented as a non-fact, as something imaginary, desired, unreal. The Subjunctive Mood is also used to express an emotional attitude of the speaker to real facts (with auxiliary should in different kinds of subordinate clauses).

If all good people were clever, and all clever people were good,

This world would be nicer than ever, we think that it possibly could.

I am surprised that you should think so.

In Modern English the Subjunctive Mood has synthetic and analytical forms.

The synthetic forms are as follows: the Present Subjunctive and the Past Subjunctive.

The Present Subjunctive has exactly the same form as the infinitive (without to); therefore the present subjunctive of to be is be for all persons, and present subjunctive of all other verbs is the same as their present tense except that sis not added for the third person singular.

The Queen lives here. (Simple Present)

Long live the Queen! (Present Subjunctive)

The Present Subjunctive is used in certain exclamations to express a wish or hope.

God bless you! Heaven help us!

The devil take him! Long live freedom!

The Past Subjunctive has the same forms as the Past Simple: did, went (unreal actions referring to the present or future), except the verb be; and as the Past Perfect: had done, had gone (unreal actions referring to the past).

The Past Subjunctive form of the verb be is either was or were for I/he/she/it. In expressions of doubt or unreality were is more usual than was. In conversation, however, was is often used instead of were. In the expression If I were you the form were is almost always used.

The Past Subjunctive forms (non-perfect and perfect) are mainly used in if-clauses of conditional sentences, and also in certain kinds of subordinate clauses to indicate unreality or improbability, or when the supposition is contrary to known facts. (See the information given below).

If I were you, I would not miss lessons.

If she was/were offered a job, she would take it.

He talks/talked as though he knew everything.

I would be sorry if you thought ill of me.


The Analytical forms of the Subjunctive Mood consist of the auxiliaries should, would, may/might, could and the Indefinite or Perfect Infinitive (without to) of the notional verb.

If it were winter now, I would ski every day.

I wish I could get home as soon as possible.

I wish you would stop thinking about it.

I would phone him tomorrow.

Whoever you may be, Sir, Iím grateful to you.

Whenever you may come, I am glad to see you.

Should he come, ask him to wait.

She might have told me the truth, but I didnít want to listen to her.

The Subjunctive Mood is used:

in conditional sentences of Type 2 and Type 3 to express a desired or unreal condition (in the subordinate clause) and a desired or unreal consequence (in the principal clause).

If I were you, I would plant a lot of flowers round the house.

If you had tried to do it again, you would have succeeded.

Date: 2015-12-11; view: 2125

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