The Subjunctive


1. Uses of the subjunctive
In modern English, the Simple Present Subjunctive is most commonly used in formal commands and requests. In the following examples, the verbs in the Simple Present Subjunctive are underlined.
e.g. They demand that he submit a report.
We request that you be here tomorrow.

The Simple Present Subjunctive is also still used in a few traditional expressions.
e.g. Long live the King!

The past tenses of the Subjunctive, and the auxiliary would, are used in expressing wishes.
e.g. I wish you were here.
I wish I had known that.
I wish the rain would stop.

The past tenses of the Subjunctive, and the auxiliary would, can also be used in order to indicate that conditions being expressed are false or improbable.
e.g. If I were rich, I would travel around the world.
If he had been here, he would have been glad to see you.

In the first example, the use of the Simple Past Subjunctive were and the Simple conjugation with would indicates that the condition expressed in the clause If I were rich is false or improbable. In the second example, the use of the Past Perfect Subjunctive had been, and the Perfect conjugation with would, indicates that the condition expressed in the clause If he had been here is false.

English Grammar Lessons
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2 thoughts on “The Subjunctive”

  1. I am a teacher having some 28 years of experience, and think these tests can be helpful to my students in different levels.
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