The Subjunctive

The Subjunctive
The subjunctive is a structure which is not very common in English and which is usually regarded as formal or old-fashioned. Using the subjunctive involves using the base form of a verb instead of a present or past tense, or instead of `should' and a base form.
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'whether' and 'though'
The subjunctive can be used instead of a present tense in a conditional clause beginning with `whether' or a clause containing `though'.

The new world must be welcomed, if only because it will come whether it be welcomed or not.

The church absorbs these monuments, large though they be, in its own immense scope.

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'that'
The subjunctive can be used in a `that'-clause when making a suggestion.

Someone suggested that they break into small groups.

It was his doctor who suggested that he change his job.

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'lest'
`Lest' is sometimes used with a subjunctive verb form in a purpose clause to say what an action is intended to prevent.

He was put in a cell with no clothes and shoes lest he injure himself.

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subjunctive use of 'were'
In writing and sometimes in conversation, `were' is used instead of `was' in conditional clauses referring to a situation that does not exist or that is unlikely. This use of `were' is also a type of subjunctive use.

He would be persecuted if he were sent back.

If I were asked to define my condition, I'd say `bored'.

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`Were' is also often used instead of `was' in clauses beginning with `as though' and `as if'.

You talk as though he were already condemned.

Margaret looked at me as if I were crazy.

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Useful english dictionary. 2012.

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  • the subjunctive — ◊ GRAMMAR The subjunctive is a structure which is not very common in English and which is usually regarded as formal or old fashioned. Using the subjunctive involves using the base form of a verb instead of a present or past tense, or instead of… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Subjunctive in Dutch — The subjunctive mood in Dutch is a verb mood typically used in dependent clauses to express a wish, command, emotion, possibility, uncertainty, doubt, judgment, opinion, necessity, or action that has not yet occurred. It is also referred to as… …   Wikipedia

  • subjunctive mood — 1. The subjunctive mood, one of the great shifting sands of English grammar, is a verbal form or mood expressing wish or hypothesis in contrast to fact, and usually denotes what is imagined, wished, demanded, proposed, and so on. In modern… …   Modern English usage

  • subjunctive Grammar — [səb dʒʌŋ(k)tɪv] adjective denoting a mood of verbs expressing what is imagined or wished or possible. Compare with indicative. noun a verb in the subjunctive mood. Derivatives subjunctively adverb Origin C16: from Fr. subjonctif, ive or late L.… …   English new terms dictionary

  • Subjunctive — Sub*junc tive, a. [L. subjunctivus, fr. subjungere, subjunctum, to subjoin: cf. F. subjonctif. See {Subjoin}.] Subjoined or added to something before said or written. [1913 Webster] {Subjunctive mood} (Gram.), that form of a verb which express… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Subjunctive mood — Subjunctive Sub*junc tive, a. [L. subjunctivus, fr. subjungere, subjunctum, to subjoin: cf. F. subjonctif. See {Subjoin}.] Subjoined or added to something before said or written. [1913 Webster] {Subjunctive mood} (Gram.), that form of a verb… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Subjunctive — Sub*junc tive, n. (Gram.) The subjunctive mood; also, a verb in the subjunctive mood. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • subjunctive — [səb juŋk′tiv] adj. [LL subjunctivus < L subjunctus, pp. of subjungere, to SUBJOIN] Gram. designating or of the mood of a verb that is used to express supposition, desire, hypothesis, possibility, etc., rather than to state an actual fact (Ex …   English World dictionary

  • subjunctive — Grammar ► ADJECTIVE ▪ (of a form of a verb) expressing what is imagined or wished or possible. ► NOUN ▪ a verb in the subjunctive mood. ORIGIN Latin subjunctivus, from subjungere add to, join in addition …   English terms dictionary

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