I am aware of this question, but it and its answers either are not what I need to know, or are so broad on the subject I could not figure out the exact situation I am confused about.

What I need to understand is the use of a real future subjunctive mood in English. Take, for instance, the following sentences:

"If he doesn't stay true to himself, he is never going to get other people to join his cause."

"We three shall have a talk once Mary gets home."

It's clear to me that one should use the bare infinitive of a verb to form its present subjunctive, for example in subordinate clauses after verbs like beg and advocate, which is used for events placed in the future in spite of the tense's name.

Because of this, one could assume that in the sentences above the verbs/verbal phrases in bold should be changed to not stay and get respectively (since both refer to future, either immediate or distant/undefined, and could be considered subjunctive due to untruth of the sentences as of the moment of speech). Is this assumption correct?

  • English doesn't have a subjunctive mood. Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 1:01
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    It may not have different verb forms for subjunctive, but it does have special rules to deal with irrealis statements). See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_subjunctive - maybe I'm not expressing myself correctly, but such rules do apply.
    – gchiconi
    Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 1:08
  • I don't really get what you're asking. The alternatives you propose don't have anything to do with irrealis - one is proposing removing do-support, and the other removing the third person singular inflection. Both of those would be ungrammatical. Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 1:10
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    Check the Wiki article I linked to. And, well, I've seen those in real world usage before, and as much as I respect your input I'd wait to see someone else agree with you and present some explanation other than "this doesn't exist and never has" when it indeed has existed and at least in some places (whether or not formally correct) still does.
    – gchiconi
    Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 1:30
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    "I advocate that he be more cautious" is fine. In the U.S., you'd be much more likely to hear this than "I advocate that he is cautious" (which strikes me as ungrammatical). But we currently only use the present subjunctive with verbs like advocate, recommend, demand, insist, be important and so forth. Some grammarians call this the mandative subjunctive, because it is used with commands, recommendations, and so forth. (And people in the U.K. often don't even use it with these verbs.) Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 1:53

1 Answer 1


You won't find phrases like the following nowadays except in legal writing:

No officer or soldier should enter the house or premises of any peaceable citizen, no matter what his politics, unless on business; and no such officer or soldier can force an entrance unless he have a written order from a commanding officer ...

If you're going to be reading works from the 19th century and earlier, you might as well know how to recognize these forms for what they are when you encounter them.

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