Subjunctive tense

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Besides "if" and "I wish," are there any more conditions on when to use the subjunctive tense? If so, when should it be used?

verb tense subjunctive asked Jul 14 '13 at 04:58 Joey New member

1 answer


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Joey - the subjunctive is a complicated topic.  You need to read up on this for yourself to get a thorough insight into it.  However, let me point out some things in this regard:

 

1.  Not all if-clauses are subjunctive.  Most conditional clauses are not subjunctive with the exception of the second and third conditionals which may be used for the past subjunctive.  For example, 'If I were a rich man...' [foot-tapping as I remember that beautiful tune from 'Fiddler on the Roof'].  Or, 'If I had been a millionaire in the the 80s, I would have ...'.  

 

2.  The subjunctive can be used in the present, past, and future tenses.  You can easily find examples if you do some research.

 

3.  The present subjunctive sounds decidedly odd for the first person singular.  For example, 'I suggest that he go to the doctor if he is feeling ill.'  The base form verb is used here and not, as expected, the present simple tense form of the verb.

 

4.  The subjunctive is most commonly used in 'that-clauses'.  For example, 'I propose that she be removed as leader of this team.'

 

5.  Some modal verbs have past subjunctive forms.  For example, 'I wish that he could/would tell me the answer.'  Also, 'I should go now, I am late.'

 

If you're really keen on this topic, try to find some information on 'subjunctive conditionals' or 'counterfactual conditionals' too.

link comment edited Jul 14 '13 at 15:31 Ahmad Barnard Expert

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