I said: "I believe he know me." But that was marked wrong. The right answer should be: "I believe he knows me." But if I remember correctly about subjunctive structure, after verbs like hope, believe, we should use the infinitive form of the verb? Like; "I hope he win" instead of "I hope he wins". Can someone confirm that for me?


None of believe, hope, or wish takes the present subjunctive in English. (Although wish takes the past subjunctive in constructions like I wish he were...) Currently, the present subjunctive is used for requests and demands (neither of which hope, believe, or wish is, although wish comes fairly close), and while it is widespread in American English, many speakers of British English never or rarely use it. For example:

I recommend that he study harder.

In the 19th century and earlier, the present subjunctive was used for hopes and wishes, and some frozen idioms persist from that time:

Long live the king.

The use of the past subjunctive in English is quite different, and it might help to think of them as two completely different pieces of grammar.

  • "wish" takes the subjunctive all the time. "I wish I were taller." is very common. With "believe" it can be done in certain hypothetical or conditional phrasings such as "If I believed that it were so, then I would have ..."
    – Zorf
    Dec 2 '19 at 11:35
  • @Zorf: You're right. I was thinking about the present subjunctive, and not the past subjunctive. It's fixed now. Dec 2 '19 at 12:28
  • @Zorf Your claim "wish" takes the subjunctive all the time is (taking the temporal in its precise sense) far from true according to these GoogleNgrams. The modal preterite 'I wish I was taller' seems likely to outmode irrealis 'I wish I were taller'. Dec 2 '19 at 12:36
  • @EdwinAshworth "all the time" was an idiom in this case, I guess; replace it with "it's very common to do so. That the subjunctive in English is being replaced by other forms more and more is no secret.
    – Zorf
    Jan 7 '20 at 23:31
  • @Zorf: Right: by all the time, I didn't literally mean all the time. Jan 7 '20 at 23:51

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