Thursday, June 26, 2014

The subjunctive mood (2)

The subjunctive mood is slowly disappearing; you seldom need to use it. But seldom is not never; there are situations in which you must use the subjunctive. So, you need to know what those situations are. Stay with me; it’s not difficult.

Overview of the major moods

“There are three major moods in English: (1) the indicative mood is used to make factual statements or pose questions, (2) the imperative mood to express a request or command, and (3) the (rarely used) subjunctive mood to show a wish, doubt, or anything else contrary to fact.” (Source)

Examples (all are song titles from famous musical comedies)
Indicative:  “A Secretary Is Not a Toy."
Imperative:  “Get Me to the Church on Time.”
Subjunctive:  “If I Were a Rich Man."
The Takeaway: If you use the indicative where you should have used the subjunctive, your readers or listeners will normally guess what you meant to say. However, the well-educated people among your readers or listeners will think you are ill-educated. Therefore, to avoid losing credibility, you must learn when to use the subjunctive. If, following my advice, you have been reading good writing aloud for at least ten minutes a day, eventually you will learn the subjunctive automatically, by unconscious imitation. If you want faster results, study the examples here and here.

See disclaimer.

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