subjunctive mood and its usage
In grammar, the subjunctive mood is a verb mood typically used in dependent clauses to express a wish, emotion, possibility, judgment, opinion, necessity, or action that has not yet occurred. It is sometimes referred to as the conjunctive mood, as it often follows a conjunction.
The subjunctive in Modern English is easily distinguished in a great variety of contexts where the sense is past tense, but the form of the subjunctive verb required is the present: "It was required that you go to the back door of our house." Were it not for the subjunctive, the form of "to go" for something in the past would be went. Compare with the indicative, "Everyone knows that you went to the back door of our house."
The form of the subjunctive is distinguishable from the indicative in four circumstances:
1. in the third person singular of any verb in the present tense.
2. in the first and third persons singular of the verb "to be" in the past tense.
3. in all instances of the verb "to be" in the present tense.
4. in all instances of all verbs in the future tense.
You should remember that the following verbs typically followed by clauses that take the subjunctive:
ask, demand, determine, insist, move, order, pray, prefer, recommend, regret, request, require, suggest, and wish.
In English there is no difference between the subjunctive and normal, or indicative, form of the verb except for the present tense third person singular and for the verb to be. The subjunctive for the present tense third person singular drops the -s or -es so that it looks and sounds like the present tense for everything else. The subjunctive mood of the verb to be is be in the present tense and were in the past tense, regardless of what the subject is. The following are some commonly made mistakes and their correction:
Incorrect: If I was you, I would eat first.
Correct: If I were you, I would eat first.
(The verb follows if and expresses a non-factual condition.)
Incorrect: We wish he was able to repair the computer.
Correct: We wish he were able to repair the computer.
(The second verb is in a clause following a verb expressing a wish. It also suggests a non-factual or doubtful condition.)
Incorrect: The manager's requirement is that everyone is computer technician.
Correct: The manager's requirement is that everyone be computer technician.
(Subordinate clause follows main clause with a demand.)
Incorrect: Tom recommended that each student reads this book.
Correct: Tom recommended that each student read this book.
(Use "read" instead of "reads")
If you need more info about subjunctive mood, please have a look at our Grammar manual
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