To my understanding when expressing something is not fact I should use subjunctive, e.g.

Without your instruction, we would be working now.

I'm wondering if I can use subjunctive to express something that is possible for being a polite way.

In my case, I'd like to reply to the recruiting manager like this:

If I was fortunate to get this job, ...

Is it ok to say like this?

  • No, you have to say "If I were ...", and your first sentence is not in subjunctive form.
    – user19148
    Commented Aug 2, 2013 at 8:21
  • 1
    And I would usually include "enough": "If I were fortunate enough to get this job, ..."
    – TrevorD
    Commented Aug 2, 2013 at 9:28
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    Necessity is not necessary for use of the subjunctive. "If I were home right now, I'd be late for work." It surely is possible that I could be at home right now. Also, the subjunctive is on it's way out of fashion (if not already).
    – Mitch
    Commented Aug 2, 2013 at 12:46
  • Not even worth talking about, really. It's never been common outside idioms, and people get the idea that it's required because they've been fed the usual line that it's like Latin, where it was required. Commented Aug 2, 2013 at 18:34

1 Answer 1


The subjunctive tense only exists inside of a conditional/dependent clause:

"If I were instructed, I wouldn't be working now." "Our work demands that she instruct us." "If I were fortunate enough to get the job, I could pay my rent."

It doesn't matter whether it's likely or not.

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    There is no subjunctive tense. Subjunctive, when it exists, is a Mood, not a Tense. Commented Aug 2, 2013 at 18:32
  • Cool! I did not know that.
    – The Dave
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 23:00
  • And the subjunctive mood does not exist in English. There are a couple of constructions in English that are sometimes called "subjunctive" -- because they reminded 18th-century scholars of the Latin subjunctive -- but they don't really constitute a mood (or tense, or voice, or aspect). Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 23:05
  • Most of what I know about grammar I learned by studying Spanish and translating back to English. I didn't know a thing called "subjunctive" existed. But, I am curious why you'd say that no such mood exists? Are you saying that "If I were . . " is incorrect? Or simply that it doesn't constitute a subjunctive mood in English?
    – The Dave
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 23:13
  • I'm saying that the constructions mentioned do not constitute a Subjunctive mood, any more than There-Insertion sentences constitute an Existential mood. They're syntax, not morphology, and syntax works differently than morphology does. Commented Jul 9, 2016 at 0:12

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