An Interesting Grammar Tip: The Subjunctive Mood

I demand that he be taken away at once.

If Sarah were doing it, she could complete it by now.

All people said that the mayor resign.

These sentences do not go by the normal rules of usage and grammar. Still they are correct. These sentences are included in a special form of grammar, known as the subjunctive form. In the normal case, the sentence should have been “All people said that the mayor should resign.” The normal counterpart of subjunctive form is known as indicative mood.

In subjunctive form, for all verbs except ‘be,’ the verb form should be the bare root form (the form without ‘to’).

I were, You were, He were, Joe run, We run, He be trashed, She be promoted, etc.

When to Use the Subjunctive

The subjective form is used to denote three elements: Probability, hope, and imagination.

In the negative form, the subjunctive form is just preceded by a not.

I insisted that he not be present for the meeting.

The subjunctive form is not in wide use today, though it is a lot cooler to use it in writing. Mostly formal occasions still have subjunctive usage, and the auxiliary verbs, such as shall, should, would, could, etc., have already rarefied the subjunctive form

Here are some other very commonly used examples of subjunctive form. I am sure you might never have thought of these:

Heaven forbid!

Be that as it may

Come what may

So be it

Suffice it to say

God help him

God bless you

This means, we still use the subjunctive form quite a lot.

History Today

In 1861, the most important Indian poet and novelist and Nobel laureate, Rabindranath Tagore (Gurudev) was born. His hymn “Jana Gana Mana” is the Indian Anthem.

Rabindranath Tagore and Albert EinsteinRabindranath Tagore with Albert Einstein

Young Rabindranath TagoreYoung Rabindranath Tagore

In 1867, Wladyslaw Raymond, Polish writer and Nobel laureate was born.


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Copyright © Lenin Nair 2008

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