I remember a grammatical rule when I learned English that some verbs such suggest, assume, suppose, and so on, require verbs after them be in subjunctive form. For examples,

We suggest that she be released immediately.
Suppose n be a number.
Assume a fact be true.

But I have seen in practice that this rule is ignored (completely) and people simply write as

We suggest that she is released immediately.
Suppose n is a number.
Assume a fact is true.

I wonder if I am wrong and this rule does not exist.

Edit: This question is different from the possible duplicate of another one in that it concerns about a rule in English that could be obsolete nowadays, rather than when to use the subjunctive mood.

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    Does this answer your question? When should I use the subjunctive mood? Commented May 25, 2020 at 18:49
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    It's not a binding rule. Many use the indicative or periphrastic should (They demanded that she should be released) where some prefer the subjunctive. As Huddleston and Pullum say, educated native speakers use all of these. And the use of the subjunctive generally seems on the decline. Commented May 25, 2020 at 18:57

1 Answer 1


This is an area where usage has been changing, and may still be changing.

Many people use the subjunctive form after verbs that demand or suggest: demand, insist, recommend, advise, require; but others don't. That form is more common in formal than informal contexts, and more used in American English than British.

(Besides the simple present, which some people use, and others object to, there is also a form with would or should, which I think everybody regards as grammatical, but the subjunctive users prefer their subjunctives).

The subjunctive with verbs of thinking (suppose, assume, guess) is now pretty well obsolete. I don't think any native speaker would use your second or third examples, unless perhaps they were being deliberately archaic.

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    I don't believe the subjunctive ever followed assume, guess or suppose. Shakespeare wrote Him he knew well, and guess'd that it was she, and Suppose the ambassador from the French comes back, and I can't find a single case where either of these verbs takes the subjunctive in Shakespeare. Commented May 25, 2020 at 18:35
  • Who said anything about Shakespeare? Colin was simply making the point that such subjunctives are now obsolete.
    – BillJ
    Commented May 25, 2020 at 18:53
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    @PeterShor: COHA (The Corpus of Historical American English) has twelve instances of "Suppose it/there/you be" and five of "guess you/there be", but none of "assume it/there/you be".
    – Colin Fine
    Commented May 25, 2020 at 19:55
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    Suppose + subjunctive is definitely in use, which is why I thought a grammatical rule.
    – E Zhang
    Commented May 25, 2020 at 20:30
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    Not been used by Shakespeare does not mean not in use in English
    – E Zhang
    Commented May 25, 2020 at 20:33

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