Questions regarding the subjunctive verb mood

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84
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8answers
302k 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?
40
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6answers
98k views

When do I use “can” or “could”?

When should I use can? When should I use could? What is right under what context?
29
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8answers
5k 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
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6answers
55k 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… ...
14
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4answers
9k 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.
14
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3answers
3k 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, ...
14
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3answers
61k 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" ...
11
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5answers
1k views

How is the English Subjunctive Composed? [closed]

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?
10
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1answer
633 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 ...
9
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6answers
8k 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 ...
9
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3answers
4k views

Can I use “lest” in the following sentence?

I am not a native English speaker/writer, but I am working on a technical thesis written in English. To me, for some unknown reason, it feels natural to write the following: However, the ...
9
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3answers
6k 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 ...
9
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3answers
8k 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 ...
9
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3answers
3k 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 ...
9
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3answers
3k views

I suggested we go together / I suggested we went together. Which is the correct usage?

I am having trouble with something very specific and I found both in usage but one has to be better than the other. Right? He wanted to go back to Kazakhstan, so I suggested we go together. He ...
9
votes
3answers
772 views

Can “wonder if” be followed by a subjunctive clause only?

In the book A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin, I've noticed the use of the subjunctive mood after wonder if: In truth, he had scarcely considered the mudmen at all, beyond eyeing Meera ...
9
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4answers
3k 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 ...
8
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5answers
2k 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 ...
8
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3answers
34k views

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

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 ...
8
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4answers
10k 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
617 views

Is “I would understand everything you said if you said it in Portuguese” correct?

"I would understand everything you said if you said it in Portuguese." Is it any kind of conditional? And if it is, can you tell me which one? As I wrote this I had the feeling that it should be: ...
7
votes
3answers
613 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". Should ...
6
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6answers
1k views

What is the opposite of 'subjunctive'?

Any verb has a mood, a voice and a tense. The mood will be indicative, imperative. infinitive etc. Voice will be either active or passive. Tense will be present, future, past,perfect,pluperfect, ...
6
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4answers
29k 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.
6
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2answers
542 views

Odd British pluperfect subjunctive construction?

I read this sentence in the Guardian today, and I couldn't figure out if it was an error or a regionalism. (I did, however, figure out that I don't know my grammar too well!) [the mid-18th century]...
6
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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".
6
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2answers
2k 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
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5answers
14k views

Difference between would and will

Thank you for your time reading this. I am from China and have learned British English for years from my middle school to undergraduate time. I normally take 'would' as the past form of 'will', ...
6
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4answers
12k 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 ...
6
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4answers
11k 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 convey ...
6
votes
4answers
673 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
2answers
494 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
6
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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 ...
6
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1answer
2k 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
214 views

What's the truth about the subjunctive and conditional statements, anyway?

I have generally (I would say always, but I'm not sure I always thought this) supposed that in English, uses of the subjunctive are quite limited. They include desires, judgments, etc. ("I desire that ...
5
votes
3answers
1k 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
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4answers
1k views

Can “I be” ever be considered correct?

I was just looking at the verb to be (here) and I saw the subjunctive form "I be". Other than pirates saying "I be looking for treasure" I couldn't think of a single usage of "I be". Not knowing what ...
5
votes
4answers
5k 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
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3answers
2k 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 ...
5
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4answers
24k 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
4k 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 ...
5
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2answers
219 views

If someone says “They insisted that he left”, is there any ambiguity in BrE or in AmE?

Do they mean something like "please go! You must leave!" or could it be "We assure you that he left"?
5
votes
5answers
124 views

Are the tenses used in the sentence correct?

From http://dilbert.com/strip/2015-07-31: I'm going to call you Carlos from now on. And it would help if you grew a beard and walked with a limp. Shouldn't it be grow a beard and walk with a ...
5
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2answers
470 views

“If a man write a better book, preach a better sermon…”

There is an old quotation attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson: If a man write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mouse-trap than his neighbour, tho' he build his house in the ...
5
votes
2answers
2k 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: http://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk/...
5
votes
3answers
4k 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 ...
5
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1answer
211 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 ...
5
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3answers
237 views

The Future Perfect Subjunctive

Can anyone tell me what's all this hype about? People consider the following sentence to be the future perfect subjunctive. There is no future perfect subjunctive in English and neither there is in ...
5
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5answers
2k views

“to require someone to do something” vs “to require that someone do something”

Professor required his students to return their papers typed. vs Professor required that his students return their papers typed. Which of the examples is correct? Do they have the ...