In English grammar, a verb has number (singular, plural), tense (present, past, future, et al.), and voice (active, passive) as well as different forms (see, seeing, seen). Another attribute that a verb can possess is called mood. Mood is the form of the verb that shows the manner (or mode) in which a thought is expressed.
Useful links – Moods Subjunctive Mood
- To learn what subjunctive mood is.
- To learn when to use subjunctive mood.
- To learn how to use subjunctive mood.
In American English, there are three moods:
- Indicative – expresses an assertion, denial, or question (most common mood)
- Imperative – expresses command, prohibition, entreaty, or advice
- Subjunctive – expresses doubt or something contrary to fact
This discussion will focus on the subjunctive mood.
The structure of the subjunctive is extremely simple.
For all verbs (except the past tense of be), the subjunctive is the same as the bare infinitive (infinitive without “to”):
|be (past)||be (present)||all other verbs (past & present)|
he, she, it were
he, she, it be
he, she, it work
Note that the subjunctive is always plural (I were, he work) in number. It has no singular form.
The subjunctive mood is mainly used when talking about events that are not certain to happen. For example, we use the subjunctive when talking about events that somebody
- wants to happen
- anticipates will happen
- imagines happening
Look at these examples:
- The President requests that you be present at the meeting.
- It is vital that you be present at the meeting.
- If you were to be at the meeting tomorrow, the President would be happy.
Sentence Structures Requiring Subjunctive Mood
A sentence may contain multiple clauses (independent, dependent). If certain verbs or expressions are used in the MAIN clause, then the MAIN clause must be followed by what I will call a SUBJUNCTIVE clause that uses a verb in the subjunctive mood.
- Certain verbs are followed by a clause in subjunctive mood.
Here are a few:
– ask that
– command that
– demand that
– insist that
– propose that
– recommend that
– request that
– suggest that
- Certain expressions are followed by a clause in subjunctive mood.
Here are a few:
– it is desirable that…
– it is essential that…
– it is important that…
– it is necessary that…
– it is vital that…
- The librarian asks that we be very quiet in the library.
- The general commands that all soldiers obey orders without hesitation.
- The teacher demanded that the students quiet down immediately.
- The company insists that each employee sign an employment contract.
- I propose that we adjourn the meeting for lunch.
- I recommend that LEWWWP members join Lee’s World of Edutainment Group.
- I request that each student respect the privacy of other students.
- My girlfriend suggests that we eat Italian tonight.
- It is highly desirable that we get an early start on our hike tomorrow.
- It is essential that a student learning English increase their vocabulary daily.
- It is important that every student participate in my discussions for maximum learning.
- It is necessary that all the paperwork be filled out correctly and completely.
- It is vital that no one see us when we sneak into the security area.
- If I were you, I would not do that.
- If he were rich, he would spend all his money on women, drinking, and gambling.
- Let it be known that the king will visit next week.
- May all your wishes come true.
Insights about the Examples Above
- Almost all of the sentences are about what someone wants to happen, wishes would happen, or requires someone else to do.
- All subjunctive verbs are plural even is the subject is singular.
- The subjunctive clause is always simple present tense using the bare infinitive. The only exception is that the verb “to be” may be present (be) or past (were).
- Examples 1 through 8 use the “certain verbs”.
- Examples 9 through 13 use the “certain expressions”.
- Examples 14 and 15 are hypothetical, unreal situations.
- Examples 16 and 17 are two other common sentence structures that require subjunctive mood.
Fill in the blanks with the correct verb forms:
- May all your Christmas holidays _____ merry (happy).
- “If all my problems _____ dollar bills, I would be a rich man,” he lamented.
- It is extremely important that this step _____ done without error.
- I would only ask one thing of him–that he _____ it quickly. [verb “to do”]
- Let it _____ said that I gave it my all (my best effort).
- It is vital that the English learner _____ subjunctive mood. [verb “to understand”]
- I recommend that all my students _____ this self-assessment quiz. [verb “to do”]
- Do you suggest that I _____ her out for a date? [verb “to ask”]
- The boss demands that we _____ his directions without question. [verb “to follow”]
- It is necessary that we _____ quick and _____ no mistakes. [verbs “to be”, “to make”]
I request that every viewer of this lesson leave a comment and give one example of a sentence using subjunctive mood. Let it be known that this means you–yes, you.