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Subjunctive Mood - Glossary of Terms

Subjunctive Mood

The subjunctive mood is the verb form used to express a command, a wish, a suggestion or a condition that is contrary to fact. A verb in the subjunctive mood may have a different form to one with the same subject which is not in the subjunctive mood.


I was in your position two years ago. (not in the subjunctive mood)
If I were in your position, I would do the same. (subjunctive mood)
    a condition contrary to fact

The following verbs often attract the subjunctive mood: ask, command, demand, insist, order, recommend, suggest and wish.


I wish it were still in use. (subjunctive mood - "it was" becomes "it were")
The board recommended that the motion be passed immediately. (subjunctive mood - "motion is passed" becomes "motion be passed")
She suggests that Mark work full time from Saturday. (subjunctive mood - "Mark works" becomes "Mark work")  
The following adjectives often attract the subjunctive mood: crucial, essential, important, imperative and necessary.


It is imperative that the game begin at once. (subjunctive mood - "game begins" becomes "game begin")

Interactive example:
He said it was essential that Johan guard the box. [show me the subjunctive mood]

Through common usage, the non-subjunctive forms of verbs are gradually replacing the subjunctive forms. Many of the examples above sound incorrect.  In summary, the changes are:

Non-subjunctive Subjunctive
is (e.g., is allowed) be (e.g., be allowed)
was (e.g., I was ordered.) were (e.g., If I were ordered,...)
verb ending "s" (e.g., he cooks) cook (e.g., ...that he cook...)


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Glossary of grammatical terms  

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