Which is correct:

"Darkness is needed to know the importance of light"


"Darkness be needed to know the importance of light"

I don't know too much English so if anything wrong here please explain :)

closed as off-topic by Janus Bahs Jacquet, Davo, David, NVZ, Nigel J Nov 14 '17 at 12:21

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"Darkness is..." is the better option.

"Darkness" is a singular noun, so usually takes the third-person singular conjugation of a verb. The third-person singular of the verb "to be" is "is."

If you used "be" instead, everyone would know what you meant, but in that situation it would sound unnatural.

  • @RobbieGoodwin No. Darkness be would, in Early Modern English, be the subjunctive form (“if music be the food of love”, etc.), but not the indicative. You’d have to go all the way back to Middle English for be to be a viable third-person singular indicative form, and even then it was never preferred, just one possible form. You’d have to go all the way back to Old English (which is not ‘archaic’, but an entirely different language) for it to be preferable—and then only if referring to gnomic present specifically. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Nov 13 '17 at 9:53
  • Uh… thanks, Janus. I've no idea now why I said that and it's gone. – Robbie Goodwin Nov 14 '17 at 0:11

I think in modern English you would only use ‘be’ to indicate something that is going to happen in the future. For example. Today there is one ship in the harbour. Tomorrow, there will be four ships in the harbour.

Darkness is needed to know the importance of light. Tomorrow, darkness will be needed to know the importance of light.

“Darkness be needed…” is not wrong, but it does sound awkward or old fashioned. IF you are telling a story or writing poetry you might speak that way on purpose.

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