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In grammar, the subjunctive mood (abbreviated sjv or sbjv) 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 details of subjunctive use vary from language to language.

Contents

The subjunctive in Indo-European languages

The reconstructed Proto Indo-European language is the hypothetical parent of many language families. These include the Romance languages, Celtic languages, Germanic languages (including English), Slavic languages, many of the languages of the Indian subcontinent and the Iranian or Persian languages and several others. It had two closely related moods: the subjunctive and the optative. Many of its daughter languages combined or merged these moods.

In Indo-European, the subjunctive was formed by using the full ablaut grade of the root of the verb, and appending the thematic vowel *-e- or *-o- to the root stem, with the full, primary set of personal inflections. The subjunctive was the Indo-European irrealis, used for hypothetical or counterfactual situations.

The optative mood was formed with a suffix *-ieh1 or *-ih1 (with a laryngeal). The optative used the clitic set of secondary personal inflections. The optative was used to express wishes or hopes.

Among the Indo-European languages, only Albanian, Avestan, Ancient Greek, Sanskrit, and to some extent Old Church Slavonic kept the subjunctive and optative fully separate and parallel. However, in Sanskrit, use of the subjunctive is only found in the Vedic language of the earliest times, and the optative and imperative comparatively less commonly used. In the later language (from c.500BC), the subjunctive fell out of use, with the optative or imperative being used instead, or merged with the optative as in Latin. However, the first person forms of the subjunctive continue to be used, as they are transferred to the imperative, which formerly, like Greek, had no first person forms.

The subjunctive in English

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Form

Modern form

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 present: "It was required that we go to the back of the line." 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 we went to the back of the line."

Present indicative Present subjunctive Past indicative Past subjunctive Future indicative Future subjunctive
to own
(example
regular verb)
I own
he/she/it owns
we/you/they own
I own
he/she/it own
we/you/they own
I owned
he/she/it owned
we/you/they owned
I owned
he/she/it owned
we/you/they owned
I will/shall own
he/she/it will own
we/you/they will/shall own
I were to own
he/she/it were to own
we/you/they were to own
to be I am
he/she/it is
we/you/they are
I be
he/she/it be
we/you/they be
I was
he/she/it was
we/you/they were
I were
he/she/it were
we/you/they were
I will/shall be
he/she/it will be
we/you/they will/shall be
I were to be
he/she/it were to be
we/you/they were to be

As shown in the above table, 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 "be" in the past tense; and,
  3. in all instances of the verb "be" in the present tense
  4. in all instances of all verbs in the future

The verb "be" is so distinguishable because its forms in Modern English derive from three different Old English verbs: beon (be, being, been), wesan (was, is), and waeron (am, art, are, were).

The modal auxiliaries do not have present subjunctive forms.[citation needed]

All Modern English modal auxiliary verbs are conjugated the same in both past and present indicative/subjunctive forms; therefore no change occurs.

Example: I can run fast. ["can" is an indicative form] (formal form: I am able to run fast.)

Example: I will do it so that he can go. ["can" is a subjunctive form] (formal form: I will do it so that I be able to go.)

In Early Modern English, the past subjunctive was distinguishable from the past indicative not only in the verb to be (as in Modern English) but also in the second-person singular of all verbs. For example: indicative thou sattest, but subjunctive thou sat.

Nevertheless, in some texts in which the pronoun thou is used a final -est or -st is sometimes added; for example, thou beest appears frequently in the work of Shakespeare and some of his contemporaries.

Present and past subjunctive

The terms present subjunctive and past subjunctive can be misunderstood, as they describe forms rather than meanings. The past and present subjunctives are so called because they resemble the past and present indicatives (respectively), but the difference between them is a difference in modality, not temporality.

For example, in "I asked that it be done yesterday," be done (a present subjunctive) has no present-tense sense. Likewise, in "If that were true, I would know it," were (a past subjunctive) has no past-tense sense and instead describes a counterfactual condition.

When used in such counterfactual sentences with "if", the past subjunctive form is usually called the "present conditional" or "conditional 2" in modern textbooks, though some grammarians reserve these terms for the form with "would" in the second clause of the sentence.

To give another example, "It's high time (that) we bought a new car". Although bought appears to be the past tense of the verb to buy, actually the car has not been purchased yet. Here, the past subjunctive is used to express a wish or a suggestion.

One could also say, "It's high time we buy a new car," which is using present subjunctive. Also, "It's time I be the pitcher," etc...

Example: I would rather he do/did that. Example: I would rather he have/had done that.

These above examples show when both a past and present subjunctive form can be used (or a past perfect and present perfect subjunctive form).

The pluperfect subjunctive

Since the "past subjunctive" is not a true past tense, it uses as its past tense what is structurally its perfect aspect form. This past tense is known as the past perfect subjunctive or pluperfect subjunctive; it is formed using had (the past subjunctive of to have) plus the verb's past participle.

The pluperfect subjunctive is used like the past subjunctive, except that it expresses a past-tense sense. So, for example:

  • If I had known (yesterday), I would have done something about it.
  • If I had seen you, I definitely would have said hello.
  • I would not be here if he had not helped me.

When used in such counterfactual sentences with "if", this form is usually called the "past conditional" or "conditional 3" in modern textbooks, though some grammarians reserve these terms for the form with "would" in the second clause of the sentence.

If a clause is in a past tense, then a clause subordinate to it cannot be in the past subjunctive, though it might be in the pluperfect subjunctive; however, if it is in a present tense, then a clause subordinate to it might be in either of the two, depending on meaning.

The pluperfect subjunctive is often replaced with the past subjunctive in colloquial speech, a substitution that is commonly considered incorrect. (See prescription and description.)

Note that by contrast, the present perfect subjunctive — that he have done — is often used in descriptions of requirements. For example, this sentence declares two years of Spanish to be an important requirement for continuation:

  • It is important that he have completed two years of Spanish before graduation.

However, this sentence emphasizes that what is important is the fact that he has completed two years of Spanish:

  • It is important that he has completed two years of Spanish before graduation.
Future subjunctive

A future subjunctive can be constructed using the conjugated form of the verb "to be" plus the infinitive or with the usage of the modal auxiliary verb "should". Note that the "were" clauses result in the present conditional, while the "should" clauses result in the future indicative. For example:

  • If I were to die tomorrow, then you would inherit everything.
  • If you were to give the money to me, then I would say no more about it.
  • If I should go, then will you feed the hens? [or If I/he go...]
  • If he should fall, who will carry the flag in his place? [or If he fall...]
Construction by inversion

Where the subjunctive is used after "if" in a counterfactual condition (see below), the same effect can be achieved by omitting the "if" and inverting the verb and subject positions.

  • If I were the President... / Were I the President...
  • If he had known then... / Had he known then...
  • If that be the case then'.../Be that 'the case then...'
Set phrases

The subjunctive is used in a number of fixed phrases, relics from an older form of the language where it was much more common. Some could be misconstrued as the imperative mood. Common examples are:

  • if need be
  • as it were
  • if I were you; were I you
  • be that as it may
  • (God) bless you!
  • come Monday (Tuesday, etc.)
  • come what may
  • far be it from (or for) me
  • until death do us part
  • God save our gracious Queen, God bless America, God keep our land glorious and free, God rest ye merry gentlemen, etc.
  • Heaven forbid
  • so be it
  • suffice it to say
  • woe betide
  • peace be with you
  • long live the king
  • the powers that be
  • albeit (a synthesis of all be it, i.e. although it be)
  • truth be told
  • rue the day
  • would that it were
  • rest in peace
  • let (may) it be known
  • ...need only.../...need not...
  • May the best man win

"May the best man win" is an example of the subjunctive. If may were used as a modal such as in "the best man may win", this would not be the subjunctive. Other Indo-European languages use the subjunctive in this same form such as in Spanish "que les vaya bien" (lit. may you go well) and "que sea de alta prioridad" (lit. may it be of high priority). The subjunctive is used in this formula in Spanish just as it is in English.

History

The subjunctive suffixes in Old, Middle, and Modern English regular verbs[1]
Present tense Past tense
Singular Plural Singular Plural
First person Second person Third person First & third person Second person
Old English -e *-e *-e *-en -d-e *-d-e -d-on
Middle English *-e *-e *-e -e(n)  ?  ? -d-e(n)
Early Modern English *-ø *-ø -d *-d -d
Modern English *-ø

* Indicates where the subjunctive suffix varies from the indicative.

Usage

To express a command, request, or suggestion

Content clauses expressing commands, requests, or suggestions commonly use the present subjunctive in US English, but this usage is now very rare in speech and rare in writing in UK English. Such clauses may be introduced by a verb like propose, suggest, recommend, move (in the parliamentary sense), demand, or mandate, by an adjective like imperative, important, adamant, or necessary, or by a noun like insistence or proposal.

This use of the subjunctive is known as the mandative subjunctive or the jussive subjunctive and is said to be the most common use of the subjunctive in English.[2] Other authorities say this use is much less common than that in suppositions or hypotheses (e.g. "If she asked for help, I'd help her.") and is often not found in UK English, not even in respected news media.

Instead, UK English often uses present indicative or even past indicative − which are both considered incorrect by many people in the UK and (prescriptive) UK authorities on language usage − or a construction with "should". Much time is spent in the UK in trying to prevent this language change well underway in UK English, and the use with "should" is arguably better because not considered as ungrammatical by most. Therefore, instead of writing No wonder the Tory Party turned him down as a possible candidate, suggesting he went away and came back with a better public image. as in the Guardian (which would be almost impossible to find in any US newspapers, which would always use the traditional suggesting he go away and come back), it would be considered less ungrammatical to use should go away. Some authorities like Ernest Gowers even recommend the use with should (in UK English) instead of the untenable traditional forms.[3]

British English also uses the construction I recommend him to do this instead of the traditional I recommend [that] he do this.[4]

Note that the present subjunctive is used in these cases regardless of the actual time reference (which must be conveyed by the tense of the main verb):

  • I move(d) that the bill be put to a vote.
  • I ask(ed) that he be shown mercy.
  • It is (or was) necessary that we not forget our instructions. / It is (or was) necessary lest we forget our instructions.
  • Her insistence that he leave seems (or seemed) rude.

Some of these words have two senses: one that introduces a clause in the indicative, and one that introduces a clause in the subjunctive. For example, insist can mean assert forcefully and persistently, in which case it introduces the indicative (He insisted that he was innocent), or it can mean demand forcefully and persistently, in which case it introduces the subjunctive (He insisted that he be given the chance to prove it). This use is typically North American English. The verb in such constructions is sometimes mistakenly believed to be a sort of infinitive, contributing to the notion of the dying subjunctive.

Sometimes the verb of a main clause can be in the subjunctive mood, without any explicit word like the above; this carries the force of a third-person request. This is the usage found in many set expressions, such as God bless you.

  • America, America, God shed His grace on thee, and crown thy good with brotherhood ("America the Beautiful")
  • God save our gracious Queen

The traditional English text of the Aaronic blessing is cast entirely in the subjunctive, with jussive force:

The Lord bless thee and keep thee. The Lord make his face to shine upon thee. The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee and give thee peace.

To express a wish

The past subjunctive is used after the verb to wish: I wish he were here or I wished he were there. This use of the subjunctive is sometimes known as the "volitional" subjunctive:

  • Oh, I wish I were in the land of cotton.

However, after the construction would that to express wishful hypothesis rather than condition, it seems that either past or present subjunctive could be used, depending on whether the hypothetical situation WERE completely abstract and not imminent (present) or potentially realizable (past), much like above.

  • I would that my Lord forgive me one day.
  • He would that his master not be so cruel.
  • I would that the subjunctive be restored to glory.

BUT

  • I repent; I would that my Lord forgave me.
  • In humble request, he would that his master were not so cruel.
  • Fellow editors, I would that the subjunctive were restored to glory.

To express a hypothesis

The past subjunctive is used after the conjunction if in a contrary-to-fact and contrary-to-possibility protasis. For example:

  • If I were a millionaire, I would buy a sports car.
  • If he had a car with him, he could drive us there.
  • If I were a rich man...

In the same vein, the past subjunctive is used following the conjunctions as if and as though to express a contrary-to-fact situation that reality is supposed to resemble:

  • She looked as though she were going to kill him, but after glaring for a bit, she just stormed off.
  • He tried to explain it — as if he knew anything about the subject!

The past subjunctive is also used to express hypothetical situations:

  •  ? I am torn; if I were to go with choice A, I would be better off in the short term, but if I were to go with choice B, I might be better off in the long term.

To express a purpose

The conjunction lest, indicating a negative purpose, generally introduces a subjunctive clause:

  • I eat lest I die.
  • I will place the book back on the shelf, lest it get lost.

The conjunction in order that, indicating a positive purpose, also sometimes introduces a subjunctive clause, though it more commonly introduces a clause using the auxiliary verb may (or in the subjunctive, might):

  • I am putting your dinner in the oven in order that it (may) keep warm.
  • He wrote it in his diary in order that he (might) remember.

To express a doubt or supposition

The subjunctive is sometimes used after other conjunctions to express doubt or supposition, although this usage is nowadays more often replaced by the indicative.

  • I will not let thee go, except [=unless] thou bless me. (Genesis 32:26)
  • Murder, though it have no tongue, will speak.
  • Whoever he be, he shall not go unpunished.
  • But [=although] he were dead, yet shall he live. (New Testament)
  • Fee, fie, fo, fum / I smell the blood of an Englishman; / Be he alive or be he dead, / I'll grind his bones to make my bread. (Jack and the Beanstalk)
  • If I be found guilty, I shall be given the maximum punishment.
  • I won't do it unless [or until] I be told to do it.
  • Whether he vote for this or not (If he vote for it or if he not vote for it), we must proceed with the plan.
  • I want you to give this money to him so that he have enough for lunch. (the conjunction "so that" takes a subjunctive in formal English)

Hyperusage

The subjunctive has sometimes been used simply as a conditioned variant that follows "if" and similar words even in the absence of a hypothetical situation.

In the hypercorrection example quoted, "if" is a substitute for the unambiguous word "whether" ("Johnny asked me whether I was afraid"), and lacks the usual, "in the event that" meaning that it has in other usage such as "If we go to bed now, we will be up at three o'clock."

Reduction in the usage of the subjunctive

In some dialects of English, the indicative has taken the place of the subjunctive, although this is considered erroneous by some in formal speech and writing. The similarity of the subjunctive and the past tense has led to the confusion between the two, and the error is evident in various pop culture references and music lyrics.

  • If I was President...
  • If he was a ghost...
  • If I was a rich girl...

This reduction of usage is not uniform; compare:

However, in the context of the examples above, inversion cannot occur with the indicative as it would with the subjunctive; the following are ungrammatical, except insofar as they could be misinterpreted as questions:

  • Was I the President...
  • Was he a ghost...

Furthermore, many of the fossil phrases are often re-analyzed as imperative forms rather than as the subjunctive.

The subjunctive is not uniform in all varieties of spoken English. However, it is preserved in speech, at least in North American English and in many dialects of British English. Some dialects replace it with the indicative or construct it using a modal verb, except perhaps in the most formal literary discourse. According to the Random House College Dictionary, "Although the subjunctive seems to be disappearing from the speech of many, its use is still the mark of the educated speaker."[5]

Other Germanic languages

In the Germanic languages, subjunctives are also usually formed from old optatives. In German, subjunctives are typically marked with an -e ending, and often with i-umlaut, showing once more the presence of the *-i- suffix that is the mark of the old optative. In Old Norse, an -i is involved in many subjunctive constructions; grefr, "he digs", becomes grafi, "let him dig"; and an i-umlaut occurs in subjunctive derivations in the strong verbs.[6] While most of the signs of this suffix have been removed in Modern English, the change from was to were in the modern English subjunctive of to be also marks addition of a vowel sound to the subjunctive form, and as such represents an echo of the Indo-European optative marker of five thousand years ago.[citation needed]

The subjunctive in German

In German it is generally accepted that there are two forms of the subjunctive mood - Konjunktiv I ('present' subjunctive, often abbreviated as KI) and Konjunktiv II ('past' subjunctive, often abbreviated as KII), both of which can actually be expressed in (almost) all tenses.

The KI is normally used to express indirect (reported) speech. For example: Er sagte mir, er sei nicht bereit. — He told me that he was not ready. In this case, present subjunctive 'sei' replaces the present indicative 'ist.'

This carries a neutral to slightly disclaimerish meaning: the claim reported may be (to the reporter using Konjunktiv) true or not, or unknown.

If the speaker doubts the statement, Konjunktiv II may be used, however the usage of Konjunktiv forms does not always follow the principles strictly (Konjunktiv II may replace Konjunktiv I; Konjunktiv I sounds rather formal).

Es wurde gesagt, er habe keine Zeit für so (et)was. — It is said that he has no time for this kind of thing. In this case, present subjunctive 'habe' replaces the present indicative 'hat.'

Many examples of the subjunctive can be found in German newspapers and magazines.

The KI for regular verbs in German is formed by adding -e, -est, -e, -en, -et, -en to the stem. The verb sein (to be) deviates somewhat from this rule, producing ich sei; du sei(e)st; er sei; wir seien; ihr sei(e)t; sie seien. While the use of Konjunktiv I for reported speech is considered "correct" German, its use in colloquial speech is in continual decline.

It is possible to express the KI in various tenses, including the perfect (er sei da gewesen) and the future (er werde da sein) although the latter is rarely used. The Konjunktiv I in the preterite and conditional does exist, but they are identical to their indicative equivalents and are not worth considering in day-to-day communication.

The KII is used to form the conditional tense and, on occasion, as a replacement for the Konjunktiv I when both indicative and subjunctive moods of a particular verb are indistinguishable.

Although every German verb has a Konjunktiv II form, the most prevalent method of forming the conditional in spoken German is to render the verb werden (to become) in the Konjunktiv II form (würde) and append the infinitive of the action, as in An deiner Stelle würde ich ihm nicht helfen (I would not help him if I were you). In this example, the true Konjunktiv II form of the verb (hülfe) is almost completely obsolete and would sound extremely pretentious. However, the usage of "würde" to circumvent the Konjunktiv II forms of the verbs haben (hätte) and sein (wäre) can range from being awkward (in the Present Konjunktiv II) to outright impossible (in the Past-Time Konjunktiv II). A handful of verbs exist for which either construction can be used, such as with finden (fände) and tun (täte). With this handful of verbs, the actual Konjunktiv II forms are considered by many dictionaries to be the only proper term in written German.

The KII is formed from the stem of the preterite (imperfect) form of the verb and appending the appropriate Konjunktiv I ending as appropriate, although in most regular verbs the final 'e' in the stem is dropped. In most cases, an umlaut is appended to the stem vowel if possible (i.e. if it is a, o, u or au), for example: ich warich wäre, ich brachteich brächte.

See also German grammar.

The subjunctive in Dutch

Dutch has the same subjunctive tenses as German (described above), but nowadays they are almost never used. The same two tenses as in German are sometimes considered subjunctive and sometimes conditional.

Some sentences that are used often in Dutch still contain the subjunctive mood:

  • Leve de koningin! (Long live the Queen!)
  • Men neme (One takes (found in recipes))
  • Uw naam worde geheiligd (Hallowed be Thy name (Lord's Prayer))
  • Zo waarlijk helpe mij God almachtig (So help me God (when swearing an oath))
  • Het zij zo (So be it)
  • God zegene u (God bless you)
  • De HERE zegene u en behoede u; de HERE doe Zijn aangezicht over u lichten en zij u genadig; de HERE verheffe Zijn aangezicht over u en geve u vrede (May the LORD bless you, and keep you; May the LORD make his face shine to upon you, and be gracious to you; May the LORD turn his countenance to you and grant you peace (Priestly Blessing))

The above sentences are all in the present tense; the past tense subjunctive mood of zijn (to be) is also used rather frequently to indicate unreality, something that did not happen. It translates with the English past subjunctive were:

  • Hij ware gekomen, als u hem geen pijn had gedaan (He would have come, if you had not hurt him)
  • De graaf sprak over de diefstal van honderd goudstukken als ware het een kleinigheid (The count spoke about the theft of a hundred gold coins as if it were a small thing)

Latin and the Romance languages

The Latin subjunctive is mostly made of optative forms, while some of the original subjunctive forms went to make the Latin future tense, especially in the Latin third conjugation. In Latin, the *-i- of the old optative manifests itself in the fact that the Latin subjunctives typically have a high vowel even when the indicative mood has a lower vowel; Latin rogamus, "we ask," makes a subjunctive rogemus, "let us ask."

The subjunctive mood retains a highly distinct form for nearly all verbs in Portuguese, Spanish and Italian (among other Latin languages), and for a number of verbs in French. All of these languages inherit their subjunctive from Latin, where the subjunctive mood combines both forms and usages from a number of original Indo-European inflection sets (described above), including the original subjunctive and the optative mood.

In many cases, the Romance languages use the subjunctive in the same ways that English does; however, they use them in other ways as well. For example, English generally uses the auxiliary may or let to form desiderative expressions, such as "Let it snow." The Romance languages use the subjunctive for these; French, for example, would say, "Qu'il neige" and "Qu'ils vivent jusqu'à leur vieillesse." However, in the case of the first-person plural, these languages have imperative forms: "Let us go" in French is "Allons-y." In addition, the Romance languages tend to use the subjunctive in various kinds of subordinate clauses, such as those introduced by words meaning although English: "Although I am old, I feel young"; French: Bien que je sois vieux, je me sens jeune.

In Spanish, phrases with words like lo que (that which, what), quien (who), or donde (where) and subjunctive verb forms are often translated to English with some variation of "whatever." (Spanish: "lo que sea," English: "whatever," "anything"; Spanish: "donde sea," English: "wherever"; Spanish: "quien sea," English: "whoever"; Spanish: "lo que quieras," English: "whatever you may want"; Spanish: "cueste lo que cueste," English: "whatever it may cost")

The subjunctive in French

In French, despite the deep phonetic changes that the language has undergone from the original Latin, which include the loss of many inflections in the spoken language, the subjunctive (le subjonctif) remains prominent, largely because the subjunctive forms of many common verbs are strongly marked phonetically; compare the indicative je sais (I know) and its subjunctive counterpart je sache. (However, the present indicatives and present subjunctives of most verbs are homonyms when they have singular subjects: je parle [I speak] is both the present indicative and the present subjunctive.)

Use of the subjunctive is in many respects similar to English:

  • Jussive: Il faut qu'il comprenne ça.: "It is necessary that he understand this."
  • Desiderative: Vive la reine!: "Long live the queen!"

But sometimes not:

  • Desiderative: Que la lumière soit !: "Let there be light!"
  • In certain, subordinate clauses:
    • Bien que ce soit mon anniversaire... "Even though it is my birthday..."
    • Avant que je ne m'en aille... "Before I go away..."

French also has an imperfect subjunctive, which in older, formal, or literary writing replaces the present subjunctive in a subordinate clause when the main clause is in a past tense:

  • English: It was necessary that he speak (present subjunctive).
  • Everyday modern French: Il était nécessaire qu'il parle (present subjunctive).
  • Older, formal, or literary French: Il était nécessaire qu'il parlât (imperfect subjunctive).

Also in older, formal, or literary writing, the imperfect and pluperfect subjunctives double as a "second form" of the conditional and conditional perfect, in which case they are used in both the protasis and the apodosis:

  • English: Had we known (pluperfect subjunctive), we could have prevented (conditional perfect) it.
  • Everyday modern French: Si on l'avait su (pluperfect indicative), on aurait pu (conditional perfect) l'empêcher.
  • Older, formal, or literary French: L'eussions-nous su (conditional perfect, second form), nous l'eussions pu (conditional perfect, second form) empêcher.

For more on the subjunctive in French, see French verbs.

The subjunctive in Italian

The Italian subjunctive (il congiuntivo) is similar to the French subjunctive in formation and use, but is somewhat more common.

The subjunctive is used mainly in subordinate clauses following a set phrase or conjunction, such as benché, senza che, prima che, or perché for example. It is also used with verbs of doubt, possibility and expressing an opinion or desire, for example with credo che, è possibile che, and ritengo che, and with superlatives and virtual superlatives.

  • English: The most beautiful girl I know.
  • Italian: La ragazza più bella che io conosca.

One difference between the French subjunctive and the Italian is that Italian uses the subjunctive after expressions like "Penso che" ("I think that"), where French would use the indicative.

Present subjunctive

The present subjunctive is similar to, but still mostly distinguishable from, the present indicative. Subject pronouns are often used with the present subjunctive where they are normally omitted in the indicative, since in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd person singular forms are spelt the same, so the person is not implicitly implied from the verb. Irregular verbs tend to follow the 1st person singular form, such as the present subjunctive forms of andare, which goes to vada etc (1st person sing form is vado).

The present subjunctive is used in a range of situations in clauses taking the subjunctive.

  • English: “It is possible that they might have to leave.”
  • Italian: “È possibile che debbano partire”
  • English: “My parents want me to play the piano.”
  • Italian: “I miei genitori vogliono che io suoni il pianoforte”

The present subjunctive is used mostly in subordinate clauses, as in the examples above. However, exceptions include imperatives using the subjunctive (using the 3rd person), and general statements of desire.

  • English: “Be careful!”
  • Italian: “Stia attento!”
  • English: “Long live the republic!”
  • Italian: “Viva la repubblica!”

Imperfect subjunctive

The Italian imperfect subjunctive is very similar in appearance to the French imperfect subjunctive, and forms are largely regular, apart the verbs essere, dare and stare (which go to fossi, dessi and stessi etc). However, unlike in French, where it is often replaced for the present subjunctive, the imperfect subjunctive is far more common. Verbs with a contracted infinitive, such as dire (short for dicere) revert to the longer form in the imperfect subjunctive (to give dicessi etc, for example).

The imperfect subjunctive is used in subordinate clauses taking the subjunctive where the sense of the verb requires the imperfect tense.

  • English: “It seemed that Elsa was not coming.”
  • Italian: “Sembrava che Elsa non venisse.”
  • English: “The teacher slowed down, so that we would understand everything.”
  • Italian: “L’insegnante rallentava, affinché capissimo tutti.”

The imperfect subjunctive is used in “if” clauses, where the main clause is in the conditional tense, as in English and German.

  • English: “If I had a lot of money, I would buy many cars.”
  • Italian: “Se avessi molti soldi, comprerei tante macchine.”
  • English: “You would know if we were lying.”
  • Italian: “Sapresti se mentissimo.”

Perfect and pluperfect subjunctives

The perfect and pluperfect subjunctives are formed much like the indicative perfect and pluperfect, except the auxiliary (either avere or essere) verb takes the present and imperfect subjunctive respectively.

They are used in subordinate clauses which require the subjunctive, where the sense of the verb requires use of the perfect or pluperfect.

  • English: “Although they had not killed the doctor, the police arrested the men.”
  • Italian: “Benché non avessero ucciso il medico, la polizia arrestò gli uomini.”
  • English: “I would have done it, provided you had helped me.”
  • Italian: “Lo avrei fatto, purché tu mi avessi assistito.”

The subjunctive in Spanish

In Spanish, the subjunctive (subjuntivo) is used in conjunction with impersonal expressions and expressions of emotion, opinion, or viewpoint. It is also used to describe situations that are considered unlikely or are in doubt, as well as for expressing disagreement, volition, or denial.

Many common expressions introduce subjunctive clauses. Examples include:

  • Es una pena que... "It is a shame that..."
  • Quiero que... "I want..."
  • Ojalá... "I hope..."
  • Es importante que... "It is important that..."
  • Me alegro de que... "I am happy that..."
  • Es bueno que... "It is good that..."
  • Es necesario que... "It is necessary that..."
  • Dudo que... "I doubt that..."

Spanish has two past subjunctive forms. They are almost identical, except that where the "first form" has -ra-, the "second form" has -se-. Both forms are usually interchangeable although the -se- form may be more common in Spain than in other Spanish-speaking areas. The -ra- forms may also be used as an alternative to the conditional in certain structures.

The present subjunctive

When to use:

  • When there are two clauses, separated by que. However, not all que clauses require subjunctive. They must also have at least one of the following criteria.
  • As the fourth edition of Mosaicos states, when "the verb of the main clause expresses emotion (e.g. fear, happiness, sorrow)"
  • Impersonal expressions are used in the main clause (It's important that...)
  • Always remember that the verb in the second clause is the one that is in subjunctive!

How to form:

  • Conjugate to the present tense first person singular form. (ex. hablar --> hablo)
  • Drop the o (hablo --> habl)
  • Add the opposite ending (habl --> hable, hables, hable, hablemos, habléis, hablen)
  • The following are the endings for AR and ER/IR verbs:

AR

Singular Plural
First-Person e emos
Second-Person es éis
Third-Person e en

ER/IR

Singular Plural
First-Person a amos
Second-Person as áis
Third-Person a an

The following are conjugations of the irregular verbs of the present subjunctive.

Ser

Singular Plural
First-Person sea seamos
Second-Person seas seáis
Third-Person sea sean

Estar

Singular Plural
First-Person esté estemos
Second-Person estés estéis
Third-Person esté estén

Ir

Singular Plural
First-Person vaya vayamos
Second-Person vayas vayáis
Third-Person vaya vayan

Saber

Singular Plural
First-Person sepa sepamos
Second-Person sepas sepáis
Third-Person sepa sepan

Dar

Singular Plural
First-Person demos
Second-Person des déis
Third-Person den

Haber

Singular Plural
First-Person haya hayamos
Second-Person hayas hayáis
Third-Person haya hayan

In addition, CAR/GAR/ZAR verbs have their own endings to maintain their "k", "g", and "s" sounds, respectively. For example:

Jugar

Singular Plural
First-Person juegue juguemos
Second-Person juegues juguéis
Third-Person juegue jueguen

Tocar

Singular Plural
First-Person toque toquemos
Second-Person toques toquéis
Third-Person toque toquen

Cruzar

Singular Plural
First-Person cruce crucemos
Second-Person cruces crucéis
Third-Person cruce crucen

Examples:

  • Ojalá me compren (comprar) un regalo. (I hope that they will buy me a gift.)
  • Te recomiendo que no corras (correr) con tijeras. (I recommend that you not run with scissors.)
  • Dudo que el restaurante abra (abrir) a las seis. (I doubt that the restaurant might open at six.)
  • Lo discutiremos cuando venga (venir). (We will talk about it when he/she comes.)
  • Es importante que nosotros hagamos ejercicio. (It is important that we exercise.)
  • Me alegro de que tú seas mi amiga. (I am happy that you are my friend.)

The past (imperfect) subjunctive

Used interchangeably, the past (imperfect) subjunctive can end either in "-se" or "-ra." Both forms stem from the third person plural (ellos, ellas, ustedes) of the preterite tense. For example, with the verb "estar," when conjugated in the third person plural of the preterite tense, it becomes "estuvieron." Then, you drop the "-ron" ending, and add either "-se" or "-ra." Thus, it becomes "estuviese" or "estuviera." The past subjunctive may be used with "if... then" statements with the conditional tense.

Example:

  • Si yo fuera el maestro, no daría demasiada tarea. (If I were the teacher, I would not give too much homework.)

Spanish used to have a future subjunctive tense, but it is now all but extinct. It is never heard in everyday speech, and is usually reserved for literature, archaic phrases and expressions, and legal documents. (The form is similar to the imperfect subjunctive, but with a "-re" ending instead of "-ra," "-res" instead of "-ras," and so on.) Phrases expressing the subjunctive in a future period instead employ the present subjunctive. For example: "I hope that it will rain tomorrow" would simply be "Espero que llueva mañana" (where llueva is the third-person singular present subjunctive of llover, "to rain"). The future subjunctive form of the verb would have been "lloviere."

Though the "-re" form appears to be more closely related to the imperfect subjunctive "-ra" form than the "-se" form, that is not the case. The "-se" form of the imperfect subjunctive derives from the pluperfect subjunctive of Vulgar Latin and the "-ra" from the pluperfect indicative, combining to overtake the previous pluperfect subjunctive ending. The "-re" form is more complicated, stemming (so to speak) from a fusion of the perfect subjunctive and future perfect indicative—which, though in different moods, happened to be identical in the second and third persons—before losing the perfect tense in the shift to future subjunctive, the the same perfect tense nature that was the only thing the forms originally shared. So the "-ra" and "-se" forms always had a past (to be specific, pluperfect) meaning, but only the "-se" form always belonged with the subjunctive mood that the "-re" form had since its emergence.[7]

The subjunctive in Portuguese

In Portuguese, the subjunctive (subjuntivo (Brazil) or conjuntivo (Portugal)) is used to talk about situations which are seen as doubtful, imaginary, hypothetical, demanded, or required. It can also express emotion, opinion, disagreement, denial, or a wish. Its value is similar to the one it has in formal English:

  • Command: Faça-se luz! "Let there be light!"
  • Wish: Viva o rei! "Long live the king!"
  • Necessity: É importante que ele compreenda isso. "It is important that he understand that."
  • In certain, subordinate clauses:
    • Ainda que seja meu aniversário... "Even though it be my birthday..."
    • Antes que eu vá... "Before I go..."

As in Spanish, the imperfect subjunctive is in vernacular use, and it is employed, among other things, to make the tense of a subordinate clause agree with the tense of the main clause:

  • English: It is [present indicative] necessary that he speak [present subjunctive]. → It was [past indicative] necessary that he speak [present subjunctive].
  • Portuguese: É [present indicative] necessário que ele fale [present subjunctive]. → Era necessário [past (imperfect) indicative] que ele falasse [past (imperfect) subjunctive].

The imperfect subjunctive is also used when the main clause is in the conditional:

  • English: It would be [conditional] necessary that he speak [present subjunctive].
  • Portuguese: Seria [conditional] necessário que ele falasse [imperfect subjunctive].

Note that there are authors who regard the conditional of Portuguese as a 'future in the past' of the indicative mood, rather than as a separate mood; they call it futuro do pretérito ("future of the past"), especially in Brazil.

Portuguese differs from other Romance languages in having retained the medieval future subjunctive (futuro do subjuntivo), which is rarely used in Spanish and Galician and has been lost in other West Iberian Romance languages. It expresses a condition that must be fulfilled in the future, or is assumed to be fulfilled, before an event can happen. Spanish and English will use the present tense in this type of clause.

For example, in conditional sentences whose main clause is in the conditional, Portuguese, Spanish and English employ the past tense in the subordinate clause. Nevertheless, if the main clause is in the future, Portuguese will employ the future subjunctive where English and Spanish use the present indicative. (Note that English, when being used in a rigorously formal style, takes the present subjunctive in these situation, example: If I be, then...) Contrast the following two sentences.

  • English: If I were [past subjunctive] king, I would end [conditional] hunger.
    • Spanish: Si fuera [imperfect subjunctive] rey, acabaría con [conditional] el hambre.
    • Portuguese: Se fosse [imperfect subjunctive] rei, acabaria com [conditional] a fome.
  • English: If I am [present indicative] [technical English is "if I be" present subjunctive] elected president, I will change [future indicative] the law.
    • Spanish: Si soy [present indicative] elegido presidente, cambiaré [future indicative] la ley.
    • Portuguese: Se for [future subjunctive] eleito presidente, mudarei [future indicative] a lei.

The first situation is counterfactual; we know that the speaker is not a king. However, the second statement expresses a promise about the future; the speaker may yet be elected president.

For a different example, a father speaking to his son might say:

  • English: When you are [present indicative] older, you will understand [future indicative].
  • Spanish: Cuando seas [present subjunctive] mayor, comprenderás [future indicative].
  • French: Quand tu seras [future indicative] grand, tu comprendras [future indicative].
  • Portuguese: Quando fores [future subjunctive] mais velho, compreenderás [future indicative].

The future subjunctive is identical in form to the personal infinitive in regular verbs, but they differ in some irregular verbs of frequent use. However, the possible differences between the two tenses are due only to stem changes. They always have the same endings.[8]

The subjunctive in Romanian

Romanian is part of the Balkan Sprachbund and as such uses the subjunctive (conjunctivul) more extensively than other Romance languages. The subjunctive forms always include the conjunction , which within these verbal forms plays the role of a morphological structural element. The subjunctive has two tenses: the past tense and the present tense.

Present tense

The present subjunctive of the regular verbs is formed by adding specific endings to the stem of the infinitive (e.g. El vrea să cânte, he wants to sing). The actual verbal form is preceded by the conjunction . The present tense is by far the most widely used of the two subjunctive tenses and is used frequently after verbs that express wish, preference, permission, possibility, request, advice, etc.: a vrea to want, a dori to wish, a prefera to prefer, a lăsa to let, to allow, a ruga to ask, a sfătui to advise, a sugera to suggest, a recomanda to recommend, a cere to demand, to ask for, a interzice to forbid, a permite to allow, to give permission, a se teme to be afraid, etc.

When used independently, the subjunctive indicates a desire, a fear, an order or a request, i.e. has modal and imperative values. The present subjunctive is used in questions having the modal value of should:

  • Să plec? Should I leave?
  • Să mai stau? Should I stay longer?
  • De ce să plece? Why should he/she leave?

The present subjunctive is often used as an imperative, mainly for other persons than the 2nd person. When used with the 2nd person, it is even stronger than the imperative. The 1st person plural can be preceded by the interjection hai, which intensifies the imperative meaning of the structure:

  • Să mergem! / Hai să mergem! Let us go!
  • Să plece imediat! I want him to leave immediately!
  • Să-mi aduci un pahar de apă! Bring me a glass of water!

The subjunctive present is used in certain set phrases used as greetings in specific situations:

  • Să creşti mare! (to a child, after he / she declared his / her age or thanked for something)
  • Să ne (să-ţi, să vă) fie de bine! (to people who have finished their meals)
  • Să-l (să o, să le etc.) porţi sănătos / sănătoasă! (when somebody shows up in new clothes, with new shoes)
  • Dumnezeu să-l (s-o, să-i, să le) ierte! (after mentioning the name of a person who died recently)

Past tense

The past tense of the subjunctive mood has one form for all persons and numbers of all the verbs, which is să fi followed by the past participle of the verb. The past subjunctive is used after the past optative-conditional of the verbs that require the subjunctive (a trebui, a vrea, a putea, a fi bine, a fi necesar, etc.), in constructions that express the necessity, the desire in the past:

  • Ar fi trebuit să fi rămas acasă. You should have stayed home.
  • Ar fi fost mai bine să mai fi stat. It would have been better if we had stayed longer.

When used independently, the past subjunctive indicates a regret related to a past-accomplished action that is seen as undesirable at the moment of speaking:

  • Să fi rămas acasă We should have stayed at home. (Note: the same construction can be used for all persons and numbers)[9]

The subjunctive in Semitic languages

The subjunctive in Arabic

In Standard/Literary Arabic the verb in its imperfective aspect (al-muḍāri‘) has a subjunctive form called the manṣūb form (منصوب). It is distinct from the imperfect indicative in most of its forms: where the indicative has "u," the subjunctive has "a"; and where the indicative has "na", the subjunctive has nothing at all (except in the 2nd and 3rd person plural feminine where the "na" of the indicative is retained).

  • Indicative 3 sing. masc. yaktubu "he writes / is writing / will write" → Subjunctive yaktuba "he may / should write"
  • Indicative 3 plur. masc. yaktubūna "they write" → Subjunctive yaktubū "they may write"
  • Indicative 3 plur. fem. yaktubna "they write" → Subjunctive yaktubna "they may write"

The subjunctive is used in that-clauses, after Arabic an: urīdu an aktuba "I want to write." However in conditional and precative sentences, such as "if he goes" or "let him go," a different form of the imperfective aspect, the jussive, majzūm, is used.

In many spoken Arabic dialects, there remains a distinction between indicative and subjunctive, but there it is not through endings but a prefix. In Levantine Arabic, the indicative has b- while the subjunctive lacks it:

  • 3 sing. masc. huwwe byuktob "he writes / is writing / will write" → yuktob "he may / should write"
  • 3 plur. masc. homme byukotbuyukotbu

Moroccan Arabic uses ka- or ta-.

Egyptian Arabic uses a simple Prepositional construction by precede the conjugated verbs with (law"if") or (momken "may")

  • (Law' /Momken enti tiktebi. "If /Maybe you write")
  • (Law' /Momken enti ktebti . "If /Maybe you wrote")
  • (Law' /Momken enti konti tektebi."If /Maybe you would write")
  • (Law' /Momken enti hatktebi. "If /Maybe you will write")

The subjunctive in Hebrew

Final vowels disappeared from Hebrew in prehistoric times, so the distinction between indicative, subjunctive and jussive is nearly very blurred even in Biblical Hebrew. A few relics remain for roots with a medial or final semivowel, such as yaqūm "he rises / will rise" versus yaqom "may he rise" and yihye "he will be" versus yehi "may he be". In modern Hebrew the situation has been carried even further, with the falling into disuse of forms like yaqom and yehi; instead, the future tense (prefix conjugation) is used for the subjunctive, often with the particle she- added to introduce the clause, if it is not already present (similar to French que).

  • יבוא" (Sheyavo) — "Let him come" or "May he come" (literally, "That-(he)-come")
  • "אני רוצה שיבוא" (Ani rotzeh sheyavo) — "I want him to come" (literally, "I want that-(he)-come")

The Biblical subjunctive survives in the third person singular forms of the verbs to be (להיות — lihyot, יהי/תהי or יהא/תהא) and to live (לחיות — likhyot, יחי/תחי), mostly in a literary register:

  • "יחי המלך" (Y'khi ha-melekh) — "Long live the king" (literally, "Live the-king")

The subjunctive in Hungarian

This mood in Hungarian is generally used to express polite demands and suggestions. The endings are identical between imperative, conjunctive and subjunctive; it is therefore often called the conjunctive-imperative mood.

Examples:

  • Add nekem! Give it to me. Demand.
  • Menjünk! let us go. Suggestion.
  • Menjek? shall I go? Suggestion/question.
  • Menj! go! Demand.

Note that "demand" is nowhere near as rude as it might come across in English. It is a polite but firm request, but not as polite as, say, "would you...".

The characteristic letter in its ending is -j-, and in the definite conjunctive conjugation the endings appear very similar to those of singular possession, with a leading letter -j-.

An unusual feature of the mood's endings is that there exist a short and a long form for the second person singular (i.e. "you"). The formation of this for regular verbs differs between the indefinite and definite: the indefinite requires just the addition of -j, which differs from the longer ending in that the last two letters are omitted (-j and not -jel for example in menj above). The definite also drops two letters, but a different two. It drops, for example: the -ja- in -jad, leaving just -d, as can be seen in add above.

There are several groups of exceptions involving verbs that end in -t. The rules for how this letter, and a preceding letter, should change when the subjunctive endings are applied are quite complicated. As usual, gemination of a final sibilant consonant is demonstrated when a j-initial ending is applied:

mos + -jak gives mossak let me wash (-j- changes to -s-)

When referring to the demands of others, the subjunctive is demonstrated:

kérte, hogy menjek. He asked that I go. (he asked me to go) Here, "I go" is in the subjunctive.

Subjunctive in Celtic languages

Subjunctive in Welsh

In Welsh, there are two forms of the subjunctive: present and imperfect. The present subjunctive is barely ever used in spoken Welsh except in certain fixed phrases, and is restricted in most cases to the third person singular. However, it is more likely to be found in literary Welsh, most widely in more old-fashioned registers. The third person singular is properly used after certain conjunctions and prepositions but in spoken Welsh the present subjunctive is frequently replaced by either the infinitives, the present tense, the conditional, or the future tense (this latter is called the present-future by some grammarians).

Present Indicative- 'to be' Present Indicative- 'bod' Present Subjunctive- 'to be' Present Subjunctive- 'bod'
I am (Ry)dw i/... ydw i (that) I be bwyf
Thou art Rwyt ti/... wyt ti (that) thou be[est] bych
He is Mae e/... ydy e (that) he be bo
One is Ydys (that) one be bydder
We are (Ry)dyn ni/...dyn ni (that) we be bôm
You are (Ry)dych chi/...dych chi (that) you be boch
They are Maen nhw/...dyn nhw (that) they be bônt
Literary English Literary Welsh Spoken English Spoken Welsh
When need be Pan fo angen When there will be need Pan fydd angen
Before it be Cyn (y) bo Before it is Cyn iddi fod
In order that there be Er mwyn y bo...yna In order for there to be Er mwyn bod...yna
She left so that she be safe Gadawodd hi fel y bo hi'n ddiogel She left so then she might be safe Gadawodd hi fel efallai byddai hi'n ddiogel
It is time that I go Mae'n amser yr elwyf It is time for me to go Mae'n amser i fi fynd

The imperfect subjunctive, like English, only makes an effect on the verb bod- 'to be' and it is used after pe= 'if' and it must be accompanied with the conditional subjunctive e.g. Pe bawn i'n gyfoethog, teithiwn i trwy'r byd = If I were rich, I would travel throughout the world.

Imperfect Indicative- 'to be' Imperfect Indicative- 'bod' Conditional Subjunctive- 'to be' Conditional Subjunctive- 'bod' Imperfect Subjunctive- 'to be' Imperfect Subjunctive- 'bod'
I was Roeddwn i I would be Byddwn i (that) I were bawn i
Thou wast Roeddet ti Thou wouldst be Byddet ti (that) thou wert baet ti
He was Roedd e He would be Byddai fe (that) he were bai fe
One was Roeddid One would be Byddid (that) one were baid
We were Roedden ni We would be Bydden ni (that) we were baen ni
You were Roeddech chi You would be Byddech chi (that) you were baech chi
They were Roedden nhw They would be Bydden nhw (that) they were baen nhw

For all other verbs in Welsh as in English, the imperfect subjunctive takes the same stems as do the conditional subjunctive and the imperfect indicative.

Subjunctive in Scottish Gaelic

In Scottish Gaelic, the subjunctive does not exist but still takes the forms from the indicative: the present subjunctive takes the future indicative and the imperfect subjunctive takes the imperfect indicative. The subjunctive is normally used in proverbs or truisms in phrases that start with 'May...' For example,

  • Gum bi Rìgh Ruisiart beò fada! Long live King Richard (lit. May King Richard live long).
  • Gum bi beanachd Dè oirbh uile! May God bless you all!
  • Gun gabh e a fhois ann sìth May he rest in peace

Or when used as the conjunction, the subjunctive is used, like every other language, in a more demanding or wishful statement:

  • 'Se àm gum fàg e a-nis It is time that he leave now
  • Tha e riatanach gun tèid iad gu sgoil gach là It is necessary that they go to school every day
  • Dh'fhaighnich e nach faic mi ise He asked that I not see her

The subjunctive in Gaelic always will sometimes have the conjunction gun (or gum before words beginning with b, f, m or p) can be translated as 'that' or as 'May...' while making a wish. For negatives, nach is used instead.

Present indicative- 'to be' Present indicative- 'bi' Present subjunctive- 'to be' Present subjunctive- 'bi'
I am Tha mi/ Is mise (that) I be (gum) bi mi
Thou art Tha thu/ Is tusa (that) thou be[est] (gum) bi thu
He is Tha e/ Is e (that) he be (gum) bi e
One is Thathar (that) one be (gum) bithear
We are Tha sinn/ Is sinne (that) we be (gum) bi sinn
You are Tha sibh/ Is sibhsan (that) you be (gum) bi iad
They are Tha iad/ Is iadsan (that) they be (gum) bi iad

In Scottish Gaelic, the imperfect subjunctive is exactly the same as the indicative only that it uses 'robh' in both the affirmative and negative forms, as the interrogative does not exist in any subjunctive form in any language, of 'bi'- 'to be' although 'robh' is taken from the interrogative form in the imperfect indicative of 'bi'.

Imperfect indicative- 'to be' Imperfect indicative- 'bi' Conditional subjunctive- 'to be' Conditional subjunctive- 'bi' Imperfect subjunctive- 'to be' Imperfect subjunctive- 'bi'
I was Bha mi/ B'e mise I would be Bhithinn (that) I were (gun) robh mi
Thou wast Bha tu/ B'e thusa Thou wouldst be Bhiodh tu (that) thou wert (gun) robh thu
He was Bha e/ B'e esan He would be Bhiodh e (that) he were (gun) robh e
One was Bhathar One would be Bhithear (that) one were (gun) robhar
We were Bha sinn/ B'e sinne We would be Bhiodh sinn (that) we were (gun) robh sinn
You were Bha sibh/ B'e sibhsan You would be Bhiodh sibh (that) you were (gun) robh sibh
They were Bha iad/ B'e iadsan They would be Bhiodh iad (that) they were (gun) robh iad

For every other verb in Gaelic, the same follows for the imperfect subjunctive where the interrogative or negative form of the verb is used for both the affirmative and negative form of the verb and, like Welsh, the imperfect subjunctive forms can be exactly the same as the conditional subjunctive forms apart from 'bi'.

Examples:

  • Nan robh mi beartach, shiubhalainn air feadh an saoghal If I were rich, I would travel throughout the world
  • Nan nach dèanadh mi m' obair-dhachaigh, bhithinn air bhith ann trioblaid If I had not done my homework, I would have been in trouble

Bibliography

  • Curme, George O. (1977). "A Grammar of the English Language". Verbatim. ISBN 0-930454-01-4 (reprint of 1931 edition from D. C. Heath and Company)
  • Chalker, Sylvia (1995). "Dictionary of English Grammar". Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-860055-0
  • Fowler, H. W. (1926). "A Dictionary of Modern English Usage". Oxford University Press.
  • Hardie, Ronald G. (1990). "English Grammar". Harper Collins. ISBN 0-00-458349-3
  • Nesfield, J. C. (1939). "Manual of English Grammar and Composition". Macmillan.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ The Cambridge history of the English language. Richard M. Hogg, Roger Lass, Norman Francis Blake, Suzanne Romaine, R. W. Burchfield, John Algeo. (2000).
  2. ^ Quirk, Randolph; Greenbaum, Sidney; Leech, Geoffrey; Svartik, Jan (1985). "A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language". Longman. ISBN 0-582-51734-6
  3. ^ Bryson, Bill. The Penguin Dictionary of Troublesome Words. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-051200-4
  4. ^ Longman Exams Dictionary "common errors" in recommend lemma.
  5. ^ Stein, Jess, Ed. (1989). Random House College Dictionary, Revised. Random House. p. 1308. 
  6. ^ An Icelandic-English Dictionary, Cleasby-Vigfússon, Outlines of Grammar; Gen. Remarks on the Strong & Irreg. Verbs; Note γ
  7. ^ Leavitt O. Wright. "The Disappearing Spanish Verb Form in -Re." Hispania, Vol. 14, No. 2 (Mar., 1931), pp. 107-114.
  8. ^ More on the subjunctive in Portuguese can be found in Wikibooks.
  9. ^ Romanian Grammar detailed guide of Romanian grammar and usage.

External links


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The subjunctive mood of the verb expresses a possible state that is contrary to fact at present.

In English, the phrase "If I were," is an example of the subjunctive mood of "to be."

In German, there are two forms of the subjunctive mood - Konjunktiv I ('present' subjunctive, often abbreviated as KI) and Konjunktiv II ('past' subjunctive, often abbreviated as KII), both of which can actually be expressed in (almost) all tenses.


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