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I am reading The Code of Hammurabi translated by Robert Francis Harper. Many times there are sentences in the format "if one do this, some action shall be done". Here's an example:

If a son strike his father, they shall cut off his fingers.

I thought instead of "strike", there should be "strikes" because the 3rd person singular form with an "-s" should be used with "a son".

This lack of an 3rd person singular "-s" persists through the entire book. Is this some sort of a style, or just an honest representation of the grammar of the original language in which The Code was written (which I have no idea)?

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    This is the subjunctive mood, which is no longer required in English. This particular use of it was archaic even when The Code of Hammurabi was translated in 1904, but would certainly have been used by Shakespeare. I have no idea whether the author used it to show where there was a subjunctive use in the original, or to give the translation a feeling of antiquity. – Peter Shor Apr 30 '16 at 10:34
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    @PeterShor I would agree that the subjunctive is not essential, but I hear it used, if not daily, then regularly. If I were you I would... – WS2 Apr 30 '16 at 11:34
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    You can read is as "If a son should strike his father...", or perhaps "If a son were to strike his father...". It's archaic. – Hot Licks Apr 30 '16 at 11:59
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    "Should a son strike his father" and "if a son should strike his father" are still the subjunctive. (At least I think they were 300 years ago; I don't know whether modern grammarians still analyze them as such.) – Peter Shor Apr 30 '16 at 12:24
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    I wonder how many questions like this there are in this forum... "Is this wrong?" ... "No, it is correct, it is subjunctive." – GEdgar Apr 30 '16 at 16:09
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No, it's correct. It's just old.

As @PeterShor and others comment, this is an example of the subjunctive mood, which expresses hypothetical situations and which is no longer commonly used in English. Other, more exlicit, forms of your example include:

If a son should strike his father...


Should a son strike his father...


If a son were to strike his father...

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