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I was reading Jeremy Harmer's book (how to teach), and i encountered the sentence "it is, therefore, especially important that they are both fully engaged with what is going on and also ready to listen". But isn't that a subjunctive? Shouldn't it be "it is important that they "be" engaged..."? He's such a renowned author, I don't think he would make such mistakes, but this is kind of confusing.

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    Jeremy Harmer is British. The use of the subjunctive is much rarer there than in the U.S. Nov 10 '18 at 23:17
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    And even in the USA that wouldn't be thought unusual or incorrect. Using be instead of an inflected form in a that clause is almost always optional. Nov 10 '18 at 23:35
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    @PeterShor Do you actually have any evidence that it is "rarer" in Britain? In that particular situation my own inclination would almost certainly have been to use "be". Though I do agree entirely with John L. about it being optional.
    – WS2
    Nov 11 '18 at 7:20
  • @WS2: Ngrams seems to show that the subjunctive is dying in both places but that it's much closer to expiring in the U.K. This definitely varies by region of the U.S. (Probably also in the U.K.) The link is too large to fit in this comment, so see my next one. Nov 11 '18 at 14:58
  • Ngram supporting the previous comment. Nov 11 '18 at 14:59
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I have lived in the UK for thirty years and have definitely seen the subjunctive decline in the past twenty in newspapers and magazines, making it, I suppose, one more victim of the internet. But, regardless of custom, it is not CORRECT to use "are." You have to distinguish between what ought to be and what is, and "are" means that something exists. We have the subjunctive for a reason, and it is a good reason. It's not the subjunctive's problem that ignorant and tin-eared people don't understand it.

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    An excellent point - about the subjunctive being there for good reason.
    – WS2
    Jul 5 '21 at 8:22
  • I'm sorry, 'It is not CORRECT to use "are." ' is mere opinion. This has been discussed on ELU many times, and no less an authority than the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language accepts that the use of the indicative in such cases is not incorrect. John Lawler agrees (and he's a published Professor Emeritus of Linguistics). As does Maugham. See tunny's answer here. Jul 5 '21 at 11:42
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    Perhaps not INCORRECT, but a world where everyone is persuaded only to speak in simple indicative mood, for efficiency's sake, sounds like something out of science fiction. Is this pressure for using simplistic English driven by the voice-recognition software industry? You keep up the good work @Rhoda.
    – WS2
    Jul 5 '21 at 15:59
  • Dear Mr. Ashworth: To quote Andre Maurois, "If 50 million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing." And as to the Cambridge Grammar--I went to Oxford.
    – Rhoda
    Jul 6 '21 at 9:37
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The question was anwered in the comments, in the sense that "are" is OK.

@WS2: Ngrams seems to show that the subjunctive is dying in both places but that it's much closer to expiring in the U.K. This definitely varies by region of the U.S. (Probably also in the U.K.) The link is too large to fit in this comment, so see my next one. – Peter Shor Nov 11 '18 at 14:58

Ngram supporting the previous comment. – Peter Shor Nov 11 '18 at 14:59

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