Questions regarding the subjunctive verb mood

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51
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7answers
86k views

“If I was” or “If I were”. Which is more common, and which is correct?

My question of whether to use if I was or if I were. Which one is incorrect or nonstandard?
8
votes
4answers
5k views

When should I use the subjunctive mood?

In which cases should I use the subjunctive mood? I suggest that every applicant fill out the form carefully. If she were rich, she would live on Long Island.
32
votes
6answers
51k views

When do I use “can” or “could”?

When should I use can? When should I use could? What is right under what context?
23
votes
8answers
3k views

Why have the subjunctive and indicative converged in Modern English?

It is to me a curious fact that the subjunctive mood of verbs in English has so nearly disappeared in modern times. In fact, even the correct form and usage of the subjunctive in Modern English barely ...
18
votes
6answers
27k views

Which is correct: “what if there was” or “what if there were”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “If I was” or “If I were”. Which is more common, and which is correct? Is this correct grammar? What if there was a Stack Overflow on… ...
3
votes
3answers
11k views

Why is this sentence correct? “She suggested that he go to the cinema.”

Why is this sentence correct? She suggested that he go to the cinema. I would definitely use goes instead of go.
4
votes
3answers
5k views

“Was” or “were” in subjunctive clauses

I'm not a native english speaker, so even though I'm decently proficient at it, I don't really "know the rules" sometimes, and this is one that's been confusing me for a long time. Which one is ...
5
votes
1answer
1k views

Conditional sentences not starting with “if”

Were I rich, I would live on Long Island. If I were rich, I would live on Long Island. Is the first sentence still used, or is used in particular contexts (in example, to give emphasis to the ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

“If I would have lost you” vs “If I had lost you”

I watched a (Hollywood?) film the other day where a character visiting his just-hospitalised wife (who it seems will actually survive) says "If I would have lost you [I don't know what I'd do]". I'd ...
6
votes
4answers
4k views

Tenses after “as if”

"I'll always remember this rule as if I had just learned it" Do you consider this sentence grammatically correct? The main clause refers to the future, so I guess that the Past Simple would ...
-2
votes
2answers
5k views

“Be them” or “be they”? [closed]

Which of the following is grammatical? He had lollies be they red or blue? He had lollies be them red or blue? It seems as if it could be them as an object of be.
9
votes
5answers
443 views

How is the English Subjunctive Composed?

Yesterday, I read about the English subjunctive mood. I tried to, but couldn't, discern a concise conception of it. What do you regard as a useful and concise conception of the subjunctive mood?
3
votes
2answers
4k views

Behave as if it was or it were

You can place the script in the head or body as you like. The script will behave as if it was located exactly where you put the script tag in the document. The sentences above are taken from ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

When is “will” used in an “if” clause?

Given the following sentences that use will in the if clause (which is seldom with if-clauses and therefore, I'm not sure they all are even grammatical or not). If you will/would kindly lend me ...
2
votes
3answers
2k views

The third conditional for “if I could”

What is the third conditional for "if I could"? For example, we say: If I had studied hard, I would have passed the exam. How about this: If I could study, I would have passed the exam.[Is ...
5
votes
3answers
514 views

“Even were he not to…”

I am currently reading "Do androids dream of electric sheep?" by P.K. Dick and I have come across a grammatical structure I don't quite understand. The excerpt is the following (no spoilers, don't ...
4
votes
2answers
7k views

Correct usage of was/were on the object of a sentence [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “Wasn't” vs “weren't” On a Tuesday morning, which of these sentences is the better way to express that I already want it to be Friday? ...
9
votes
3answers
3k views

“Important that John bring/brings” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When should I use the subjunctive mood? Given the sentence John brings his lunch to school, is it correct to say It is important that John brings his lunch to ...
4
votes
1answer
2k views

Speculative conditional: Why does it use the past tense or past perfect tense?

We use simple past to state a hypothetical present situation that we would like to speculate about (If they were here, I would be happy), past perfect for a hypothetical past (had they been here, I ...
7
votes
3answers
3k views

Different conditional clauses — “if you saw”, “if you were to see”, “if you had seen”

Given the following sentences, what is the difference between the conditional clauses in them? If you saw a lion in a thick forest, what would you do? If you were to see a lion in a thick ...
7
votes
3answers
2k views

Recommend someone

I'd like to ask about the use of the verb "recommend" in the following sentences: We'd recommend you to book your flight early. The plumber recommended me to buy a new water heater. The ...
6
votes
3answers
199 views

“That… be” construction

We will make the convention that exact categories be skeletally small. Is this construction (used in a mathematical context) correct? There is something that strikes me as odd in that "be". ...
1
vote
1answer
71 views

2nd Condition or mixing 2nd and 3rd for assumption time in the past

Which of the two following sentences would be better to use for a situation where I regret that I did not do something in the past? If it were yesterday, I would buy the car. If it were yesterday, I ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

Why is American English so wedded to the subjunctive?

In the sentence 'She suggested that they go to the cinema' there is no way of telling from the sentence in isolation whether it means that the speaker gave advice on attending a moving picture show, ...
3
votes
3answers
268 views

Tense to use with “would”

In this sentence: "We would also accept an international transfer, but in that case we would ask you to pay your bank's charges at the time of the instruction to ensure that we received the full ...
2
votes
5answers
1k views

Am I using the subjunctive mood correctly?

Does this sentence use the subjunctive correctly? He spoke as though he was the only one to tell the truth.
6
votes
5answers
898 views

Is it correct to say: “I would do something, be it me”?

I mean that "I would do something, if it only were me. But it was not me, so I've done nothing".
5
votes
4answers
3k views

Does “it is entirely possible that” require the subjunctive form of the verb following “that”?

For instance, take the following sentence (from a real email exchange): it is entirely possible that one WebEx is not enough Is it correct? Should it be it is entirely possible that one WebEx be ...
4
votes
5answers
878 views

“I hope this computer work”?

Why is the phrase "I hope this computer work" unacceptable? The word "hope" makes the phrase subjunctive, so why isn't it correct to use the infinitive verb form?
4
votes
3answers
459 views

If I were him, I would doubt if she (is/was/were?) serious about this relationship

Which one is correct? If I were him, I would doubt if she is serious about this relationship. If I were him, I would doubt if she was serious about this relationship. If I were him, I would doubt if ...
4
votes
3answers
989 views

Is there a different grammatical term for “If I was” than for “If I were”?

Many people would say the correct form is "If I were rich ...". In modern colloquial English though most younger people would say "If I was rich ...". Prescriptivists might say the latter is "the ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Must conditional sentences begin with “if?”

I've been looking at conditional sentences (conditional clauses). Every example I've see is along the lines of, "if [x] then [y]." I've seen alternatives/substitutes for the if part: were I ...
6
votes
1answer
366 views

Subjunctive and conditionals

This is another subjunctive and conditional question. I am interested in the formal, even archaic, uses, not just the modern uses (I am given to understand that the subjunctive is disappearing from ...
7
votes
3answers
19k views

“if it wasn't for…” vs “if it weren't for”

Should it be "if it weren't for holes, a bagel would be a bun" or "if it wasn't for holes, a bagel would be a bun"? I've been reading about the subjunctive and how it is generally used with "if" ...
3
votes
1answer
331 views

“as if she had been” or “as if she were”?

I saw the following sentence in Vanity Fair, and have been wondering whether 'as if she were' is a better choice than 'as if she had been'. The Lady Blanche avoided her as if she had been an ...
3
votes
4answers
599 views

Past conditional statements

What is the difference between the following two statements? If I went home for dinner, I took a glass of soft drink. If I went home for dinner, I would take a glass of soft drink. Are both ...
3
votes
4answers
6k views

Usage of the future subjunctive

In the Wikipedia article about the subjunctive mood, I read that the future subjunctive of own for the first person singular is I were to own. In which situations is the future subjunctive used in ...
1
vote
3answers
1k views

I'd be honored if it was/were you [duplicate]

I've been reading a lot about the subjunctive mood lately, and everything seems clearer than it did some time ago, but I still have doubts regarding this mood. The other day I read the following ...
10
votes
1answer
538 views

English Subjunctive: An Imposition from Latin?

Often English grammar (as well as Koinê Greek, e.g "deponent", and probably others), has often been ruled by what I call "totalitarian grammarians" who impose Latin structures on it rather than doing ...
7
votes
3answers
17k views

“It would be better if you drink/drank all the water”

Which one of the following is grammatically correct? It would be better if you drink all the water. It would be better if you drank all the water. The question is, obviously, about the use ...
6
votes
3answers
3k views

What tense is “If I were a bird, I could fly”

The sentence is not referring to any time past, present of future. It's just referring to an imaginary condition which has never existed and seemingly will never exist. Still, the sentence and other ...
4
votes
1answer
345 views

Trouble with second conditionals (with “could”)

I would do B if you could do A. This is a statement which has been bothering me for quite a while. I come across such statements often and, to me, they make no sense. Could is the subjunctive of ...
2
votes
2answers
10k views

Which one is correct: “wish I was here” or “wish I were here”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “If I was” or “If I were”. Which is more common, and which is correct? Which one is the correct form: "Wish I was here" or "wish I were here"? ...
2
votes
2answers
619 views

Past perfect sentence in “I would have killed the snake if I had hit him…”

Is the following a correct past perfect sentence? I would have killed the snake if I had hit him hard with a stick.
1
vote
1answer
432 views

Difference between some sentences involving tense

What is the difference between the two sentences in each of the three cases? 1A. I should like to have sat down. 1B. I should have liked to sit down. 2A. He acts as if he knows the ...
1
vote
3answers
117 views

“Be not” or “is not”?

My point here is trying to explain why the message issued is not correct according to the operations allowed ahead. However, I'm in doubt about the bold part, is it grammaticaly correct or is there ...
6
votes
2answers
394 views

How can you make “to be” explicit and simple in this future conditional sentence?

I can say "Jerry's been a bad pussycat this morning" or "Hey, Jerry, you be a good pussycat now" or "Jerry's been active all morning so he's being a good pussycat now". All these involve the use of ...
5
votes
2answers
189 views

I still wished I could have done more [duplicate]

In this sentence, "I still wished I could have done more", why isn't it saying, "I still wished I could do more"? Beauty and the Beast season 2 episode 16: ...
4
votes
1answer
101 views

Uncertain whether pirate talk be authentically or mockingly archaic

@ZhanlongZheng asked the following question on ELL: Barbosa: I defended her mightily enough, but she be sunk nonetheless. Jack Sparrow: If that ship be sunk properly, you should be ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

How to conjugate the verb in a sentence that starts with “I wish…”

I generally find it hard to construct some sentences that start with "I wish, ..." Example: (Background:) Due to an incomplete technical documentation, we chose the wrong path, and ran into an ...