Subjunctive Mood

There are special types of sentences which are said to be in Subjunctive Mood.

These sentences violate the usual rules relating to subject-predicate agreement in number and in tense.

But these sentences are considered grammatically correct ones.

1. Present Subjunctive-Mood:

In sentences in the Subjunctive Mood, the verb is always in the singular and present tense form, even it the subject is in plural number, and the tense is in past tense or in future tense.

Sentences in which you would normally have used the verbs
is, are, was, were or will be should have the root word ‘be’ if they are in the Subjunctive mood.

There are two ways in which sentences are formed in the Present Subjunctive Mood.

In formal phrases expressing a wish or a hope or a cause.

Examples:

• Long live the Queen!
• God, save the motherland!
• May heaven help you!
• Curse, be on him!

In a noun clause formed as the object a verb indicating a desire, intention, command, recommendation, request, resolution etc…

Examples:

• The public have demanded that a flyover should be constructed at the traffic junction.(Incorrect)
• The public have demanded that a flyover be constructed at the traffic junction.(Correct)

• The disciplinary committee recommended that the manager should be dismissed from service.(Incorrect)
• The disciplinary committee recommended that the manager be dismissed from service.(Correct)

• The court ordered that the defendant pays the plaintiff a sum of ten thousand dollars.(Incorrect)
• The court ordered that the defendant pay the plaintiff a sum of ten thousand dollars.(Correct)

• The government official was willing to share some secrets with journalist on condition that the source must be kept secret.(Incorrect)
• The government official was willing to share some secrets with journalist on condition that the source be kept secret.(Correct)

• The rules relating to test cricket mandate that the fielding team should bowl a minimum of twenty overs in the last session.(Incorrect)
• The rules relating to test cricket mandate that the fielding team bowl a minimum of twenty overs in the last session.(Correct)

• It is important that your son should start studying for TOEFL and GMAT straightaway if he wishes to go to USA.(Incorrect)
• It is important that your son start studying for TOEFL and GMAT straightaway if he wishes to go to USA.(Correct)

These sentences are in Subjunctive-Mood.
2. Past Subjunctive-Mood:

You have been taught the normal conjugation of the verb ‘be’ in the present tense as I am, You are, He is, They are, We are.

But in the sentence in the Past Subjunctive Mood, the grammatical conjugation for the present tense is itself “I were, You were, He were, They were”.

When the verb used is different from BE, it is the past tense form of the verb (such as stayed, walked, lent, tackled) That is used even in sentences in the present tense.

The Subordinate clauses, if any, in such sentences must also be expressed with verbs in the past tense.

The Past Subjunctive is used in the following circumstances.

After the verb ‘wish’.

Examples:

• I wish I were the Prime Minister of India for a year.
• How I wish Harvard University gave me admission in MBA.
• I wish my brother were here now so that he could teach me algebra.

In sentences describing contrary to fact situations:

Examples:

• If the earth were to rotate in the opposite direction, the sun would rise in the west.
• If we started now and travel at the speed of light, It would take us eight minutes to reach SUN.

In sentences starting with ‘as if’ and ‘as though’.

Examples:

• George tries to order me about as if I were his wife.
• Do you notice Robert walking as though he were drunk?
• William spends money as if he had won a lottery.

These sentences are in Subjunctive-Mood.

In sentences starting with ‘it is time’.

Sentences starting with ‘it is time’ indicate that it is already late for taking the indicated action.

Examples:

• The match will commence at 10o’clock and it is time you got ready. (Not ‘it is time you get ready)
• It is already half past midnight, and it is time we returned home. (Not ‘it is time we return home)

In sentences starting with ‘I would rather’, ‘he would rather’ etc…

Such sentences indicate one’s preferences, and also are expressed in Subjunctive Mood.

Examples:

• I would rather you took up the job.
• He wishes to study medicine
• But his mother would rather he applied to the engineering college.

These sentences are in Subjunctive-Mood.

Go to the Advanced English Index to continue



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