Questions regarding the subjunctive verb mood

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55
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7answers
120k 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?
9
votes
4answers
6k 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.
34
votes
6answers
62k views

When do I use “can” or “could”?

When should I use can? When should I use could? What is right under what context?
26
votes
8answers
4k 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
34k 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
15k 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
7k 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 ...
12
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, ...
6
votes
3answers
290 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
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
6k 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
4k 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
6k 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
-2
votes
2answers
6k 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.
10
votes
5answers
698 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?
9
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
5
votes
3answers
653 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
9k 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? ...
4
votes
1answer
3k 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
689 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
101 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
7k 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
289 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.
1
vote
1answer
141 views

Infinitive use in “whether or not he be” compared with its use in “if he be”

Here is the phrase in question: . . . but whether he be, or whether he be not. . . . Is the usage of the infinitive in that phrase above the same sort of thing as occurs in this quotation: ...
1
vote
1answer
878 views

Subjunctive mood: 'was' usage after 'I wish' and 'if only'

SFX Magazine had declared the sentence below as follow: 1) STAR TURN, 2) BEST LINES. I wish Bernard Cribbins was my grandad. Perhaps he would be willing to adopt? Rattigan: “If only that ...
6
votes
4answers
487 views

Subjunctive mood

I am just curious, how often this form of Subjunctive mood is used and what alternatives are available to express the very same thing. Examples: I suggest that he implement a budget cut in March. ...
6
votes
5answers
1k 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
2answers
121 views

What does “be it” mean in this passage?

What does be it mean in this context and what kind of sentence is this? (grammatically) There is no one in our society who is not ethnocentric to some degree, no matter how liberal and open-minded ...
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
1k 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
777 views

“Assume that A = B” subjunctive?

Over on Math.SE, a question exists regarding the usage of the word "that" in the following sentences: Assume that A = B. Assume A = B. A well-known author suggests that users elect Option 1 in ...
4
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
368 views

“would rather” + subject + past subjunctive

What is the difference between: The company would rather each employee be provided with ID card. The company would rather each employee were provided with ID card.
2
votes
2answers
390 views

Tensed verb form or the plain form when used after “that” (in a mandative construction)

I know that each is a singular subject, but in certain cases it seems that is not the case. For example, in this sentence below, why would the correct verb be "keep" instead of "keeps?" The tour ...
1
vote
1answer
734 views

Under what circumstances can the word “be” be used directly without any change? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When should I use the subjunctive mood? 2 examples first: 1.It is announced that the accounting class of the 3rd and 4th hours on the morning of this Wednesday be ...
0
votes
0answers
40 views

How to rationalise the putative 'should'?

Why not simply use the English present subjunctive? Why use and thus complicate 'should' wits its many other meanings? How else can I rationalise the putative 'should', though I heed the Etymological ...
0
votes
2answers
102 views

Past Subjunctive vs Future Subjunctive form

What is the difference among the three sentences: If i were to play, i would win the match. (Depicts future tense) If i were to play, i would have won the match. (Depicts past tense) If i were ...
0
votes
1answer
136 views

Use of “would” for subjunctive phrases

This has been bugging me for some time; I tried to look for previous questions here but my language tools may not be sharp enough to phrase my query correctly so please forgive me if this has already ...
6
votes
1answer
665 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
27k 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
778 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
710 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 ...
1
vote
3answers
2k 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
568 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 ...