1
  1. Is it possible to use subjunctive form in a comparative correlative (The+the) clause? For example, is the below sentence correct?

The closer the objects be to each-other, the more beautiful the result will be.

I did some research but I couldn't find any piece of information that puts these two concepts together.

  1. What is the other appropriate way to make a sentence with the similar meaning? e.g.:

If you make the objects closer to each-other, the result will be more beautiful. But this sample is not good, because it doesn't show the correlation well.

  • 1
    The simple answer is not in this format. Why would you want to use the subjunctive? – Chappo May 9 '16 at 10:58
  • I wanted to use it in a letter. So I started to find a resource about this kind of structures. But I couldn't find any thing.Now I'm just so curious about it. – CoyBit May 9 '16 at 14:26
  • There are virtually no hits in "Google books" for The better they be the, whereas The better they are the gets lots, going back to 1726. So this construction does not take the subjunctive and never has taken the subjunctive. Use are instead of be. – Peter Shor May 9 '16 at 14:44
  • @CoyBit In Q.1 & in the sentence below it, you used capital "T" in "The". We do not capitalise in mid-sentence in that way. I've edited your question accordingly. – TrevorD May 9 '16 at 16:14
3

There are virtually no hits in "Google books" for the better they be the, whereas the better they are the gets lots, going back to 1726:

And the better they are, the greater is our Obligation to anſwer the Ends for which they were entruſted to us.

So this construction takes the indicative and not the subjunctive, and it appears it never has taken the subjunctive. Use are instead of be:

The closer the objects are to each other, the more beautiful the result will be.

Why do you want to use the subjunctive? The only reason for that I can think of would be to express counterfactuality, but you haven't done that in your suggested alternative. And in contemporary English, nobody will recognize subjunctives if you put them in constructions that don't usually take the subjunctive.

To express counterfactuality, you could say something like the following:

One expects that the closer the objects are to each other, the more beautiful the result will be.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.