1

Coming from this answer and comments under, I realized that all Germanic languages have only the present tense and the past tense. Many also have a full set of subjunctive moods.

To reduce ambiguity, "tense" or "mood" here implies inflected or conjugated (e.g. French j'aurai), not constructed (e.g. j'ai eu). Since other Germanic languages all have subjunctive moods, I think English should also have one, but it apparently doesn't nowadays. Subjunctive mood is formed in various ways like if I were, if I had been and that I should be.

Did an inflected subjunctive mood ever exist in English?

  • 3
  • An inflected subjunctive existed in Old and Middle English. See Wikipedia. And in fact, If I were is a direct descendant of the inflected subjunctive. But we've lost verb endings in English, so the form of the subjunctive has merged either with the infinitive (present subjunctive) or the past tense (past subjunctive). – Peter Shor Dec 2 '18 at 19:35

Your Answer

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

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.