Oblique mood forms (Subjunctive II, Conditional and Suppositional) distinguish the categories of aspect, correlation and voice, but they have no tense category. Otherwise stated, they cannot refer the action directly to the present, past or future. They can only indicate if the action of the verb in the Oblique Mood coincides in time with the action of the indicative mood form in the principal clause, or precedes it. This relative expression of time reference is based on the category of correlation, that is, a non-perfect form of Subjunctive II, the Conditional or the Suppositional Mood (used in the subordinate clause) denotes an action simultaneous with the action expressed by the indicative mood form in the principal clause: / wish I were home, (were denotes a present action as it is
simultaneous with the present action wish)
I was wishing I were still there, (were denotes a past action
since it is simultaneous with the past action was wishing)
Perfect forms of Subjunctive II, the Conditional and the Suppositional Mood indicate priority to the action expressed by the indicative mood form in the principal clause. Consequently, perfect forms always express past actions: / wish I hadn't got into this mess.
If there is no indicative mood form in the sentence, then a non-perfect oblique mood form directly refers the action to the present or future:
/ wouldn't do a thing like that without telling you. If wishes were horses beggars would ride.
Perfect oblique mood forms refer the actions to the past: Ten years ago, Maurice wouldn't have spoken like this. If we'd been caught last night — what would have happened
1. Subjunctive II is used in exclamatory sentences beginning with 'Oh, that ...', If only ...':
Oh, that the storm were over! (present) If only Rowley had come! (past)
Such sentences express wish or regret and are characteristic of literary style.
2. Subjunctive II is found in simple sentences with modal verbs. In the sentences referring to the present or future the modal verb in Subjunctive II is followed by a non-perfect infinitive, in the sentences referring to the past — by a perfect one:
Could you come again tomorrow? You might have opened the door for me.
3. Subjunctive II is also found in simple sentences containing the modal phraseological expressions had better, had best, would rather, would sooner. Such sentences express preference or advice:
I would rather know the painful truth than imagine it.
You'd better keep out of sight until it's all over, (advice)
The Conditional Mood is used to denote unreal actions in simple sentences:
a) with an adverbial modifier of condition expressed by a
He would not have come, but for me.
b) with implied condition
I wouldn't waste my time on rubbish in your place. (condition is implied in the phrase in your place =
c) to sound polite, less straightforward. Here the Conditional
Mood differs from the Indicative only stylistically, the perfect
Conditional expressing the highest degree of politeness.
I should very much object to you reading trashy novels.
(= I very much object ...)
I should have thought it a gross violation of duty and respect. (= I think ...)
In simple sentences only Subjunctive I is used in a few set expressions as a survival of old usage (the so-called formulaic expressions).
1. Most of them express a wish:
Long live the Army / patriotism / heroes, etc.! Glory be! Success attend you!
Be yours a happy meeting! Far be it from me to spoil the fun / to argue with you / to
conceal the truth. Suffice it to say that he is a liar / that it is midnight / that he knows nothing.
God bless you! God save the Queen! Heaven forbid!
The Devil take him! etc.
Subjunctive I in such expressions can be replaced by may + infinitive:
May success attend you! May your meeting be happy! May the Army live .long!
2. Some formulaic expressions have a concessive meaning:
Happen (come) what may (will) / Cost what it may.
So be it/ Be it so / Be that as it may. Be it rain or snow / Come rain or shine. Subjunctive I in these expressions may be replaced by let + infinitive:
Let it be so.
3. The only productive pattern of a simple sentence with Subjunctive I is the sentence expressing a command or a request with an indefinite pronoun as the subject:
Everybody leave the room! —Somebody switch off the light!
Subjunctive I may be replaced in such sentences by let +infinitive: Let everybody leave the room.
4. The Suppositional Mood is used only in one type of interrogative sentences beginning with 'And what if ... ? And what if he should come back?