Questions regarding the subjunctive verb mood

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43
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7answers
54k 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?
27
votes
6answers
37k 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
20k 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… ...
10
votes
5answers
219 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
1answer
487 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
990 views

Usage of 'had been' or 'were'

I was doing an exercise. I completed the sentence as following. If you were my child, I would have demanded that such an irresponsible teacher be fired. But the answer given in the book is ...
7
votes
3answers
2k 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
5answers
820 views

What's the tense for repetitive past action?

In English, "would" usually denotes a conditional voice. "If I were sleepy, I would go to bed." But I've caught myself using it to denote repetitive or habitual past action. "On Thursdays, we would ...
7
votes
3answers
12k 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
1k 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
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.
6
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

“Would fly” versus “would have flown”

I am not a native speaker of English. Could anyone please tell me which sentence is correct? If I had money, I would fly to Spain. If I had money, I would have flown to Spain.
6
votes
4answers
133 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". ...
5
votes
3answers
399 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 ...
5
votes
5answers
770 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
2k 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Why is American English so wedded to the subjunctive? [closed]

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, ...
5
votes
2answers
350 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
4answers
326 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. ...
5
votes
2answers
11k 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" ...
4
votes
5answers
749 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
5answers
1k views

If he is still alive today, he…

Suppose Jeff was born on 1/1/1982. He went missing a long time ago. At the present time, he could be either dead or alive, but nobody knows for sure: 1 "If Jeff is still alive today, he is 30 years ...
4
votes
3answers
987 views

Third person imperative recommendations/suggestions/requests

My question is on the grammatical correctness of the following sentence with regard to the form of the verb 'join': The plan is that the group join the party. Other sentences that I think ...
4
votes
3answers
195 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
4answers
697 views

Complete sentence: Is the subjunctive mood suitable for this case?

The worst that can happen is that he fail/fails/would fail/will fail the exam. Which of these is (or are) correct? In Spanish, the subjunctive mood would be used, is the case similar in English? ...
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 ...
4
votes
2answers
254 views

Can I use the word “must” in subjunctive mood?

I'm a student in China. Our English exam has a grammar item. 54.My boss ordered that the legal documents __ to him before lunch. A.be sent B.were sent C.were to be sent D.must be ...
4
votes
3answers
4k 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
839 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
777 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
178 views

Mixing subjunctive and indicative, “if you tripped every time someone mentions”

If you tripped every time someone mentions your name, you would have been dead by now. My question is about the subordinate clause of the above sentence, "If you tripped everytime someone ...
4
votes
1answer
272 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
5k 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
3answers
876 views

What's an example of good style for an “if/then” statement?

I'm not sure what's common for conditional statements, with and without alternative consequent clauses, in speech—even my own—but as a computer programmer, I'm niggled whenever I have to write English ...
4
votes
3answers
175 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
7k 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.
3
votes
6answers
1k views

How to correctly write this conditional phrase?

I’m struggling with a conditional clause. This one is easy: If I were you, I would do xyz ... But I have these three statements: I was a student. It was my vacation. My professor ...
3
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
222 views

“factoring” subordinate clauses with verbs that require indicative and subjunctive clauses

For some verbs a subjunctive form is used in the subordinate clause, and I would write I demand that he read the appendices. Other verbs demand that you use an indicative form, for example I ...
3
votes
4answers
6k views

“So that it be” vs “so that it is”

Recently on IRC I said this: I do not believe in proving the correctness of already constructed programs. I believe in formally deriving programs so that they be correct. And I got almost ...
3
votes
2answers
6k views

“If we were to agree” vs “If we are to agree”

In an undecided situation that needs to be discussed, which one of the following seems more accurate? Are they interchangeable? If we were to agree on this deal, do you think we can start ...
3
votes
4answers
11k views

“If I would go there, I would be in trouble” - correct?

Occasionally I've seen the construct: If I would [verb], I would [verb]. ... used, to indicate that the second clause is a condition of the first. For example, If I would go there, I would ...
3
votes
2answers
132 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
784 views

Tenses for two clauses joined by “if only”

Our school had won the match if only we have concentrated. Our school would have won the match if only we would have concentrated. Our school would win the match if only we had concentrated. ...
3
votes
4answers
502 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
1answer
1k 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
252 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 ...