Thursday 25 June 2009

Grammar: Subjunctive Mood

Subjunctive Mood

After writing the article Sports: Are "Ronaldos" always good at football? I was surprised that only one of you left comment to try, so I thought I should write a separate entry to answer my own question in case some of you miss out the comment Jan made.

"The subjunctive is a special kind of present tense which has no "s" in the 3rd person singular form . It is sometimes used in that-clauses in a formal style, especially in US English, after words which express the idea that something is important or desirable (eg. suggest, recommend, ask, insist, vital, essential, important, advice). The same forms are used in both present and past sentences."

  • The kid demanded his mother do as he said.
  • The saleslady recommended Amy check out the prices before buying.
Do is not used in negative subjunctives. Note the word order.
  • Pete insisted his girlfriend not attend her ex-boyfriend's birthday party.
  • The students suggested their teacher go and die.

Be has special subjuntive forms: I be, you be, etc.

  • It is important that Locky be paid before his money runs low.
  • It is vital that his students be pushed hard when it comes to doing homework.

Subjuntives are also use in certain fixed phrases.

  • God save the King/Queen!
  • God bless you.
  • If we have to pay $2000 for the tax, then so be it. (= we can't do anything to change it)

"Most subjunctives structures are formal and unusual in British English. In that-clauses, British people usually prefer should+infinitive, or ordinary present and past tenses."

  • It is advised that employees should stay at home and not go to work if they wake up late in the morning. (or employee stay)
  • But Paul felt that it was also advised that he should receive extra pay for his 8-hour-per-day, painstaking researches on adult websites. (or he received)

p.566 Practical English Usage by Michael Swan -- international student's Edition --Oxford.