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When and how to use the subjunctive mood in English.

There are three grammatical moods in English :
  • -the indicative mood (states facts and asks questions)
    - She plays the piano./ Is she playing the piano ?

  • -the imperative mood (commands, instructions)
    - Play the piano ! Be here by noon ! Arrive on time !

  • -the subjunctive mood (wishes, demands, hypothetical situations)
    - I wish I were rich.
    - I demand that the interrogation be recorded.
    - If he were to forget her birthday, she’d be upset.

What Is Subjunctive Mood?
The subjunctive mood is not a tense but a verb form used in English to express wishes, suggestions, demands, uncertainty or hypothetical (non-real) situations.
The present subjunctive form of a verb is the same as its base form. (e.g. ‘be', 'have').
The past subjunctive form of all verbs is their past simple form (e.g. ‘took’).
The past subjunctive form of 'be' is 'were' for all persons, regardless of whether the subject is singular or plural.

Verb changes in the Subjective Mood:
am, are, is → be
The authorities demanded that the hostages be freed
The employees insisted that the number of working hours be reduced.
The referee ordered that the game be restarted.

has → have
I suggest that everyone have an opportunity to express their views.
We recommend that each participant have a comfortable seat.
It is recommended that she have a copy of her CV with her.

was → were
I wish I were rich.
If it were me, I’d accept the offer.
If she were to change seats, we could all sit down. »

other verbs → remove 's'
I suggest that Tom play the piano.
I propose that Gran travel with us in our car.
It is recommended that the patient take his medication regularly.
It is essential that he listen to the doctor.
After 'if' and 'whether' in hypothetical situations:
If I were you, I would wear the blue dress.
If Jack were to confirm Sam's presence, Sam would have an alibi.
If it weren't raining, we could have coffee outside.
If that be the case, I will report the matter.
Whether they be friend or foe, they receive the same medical care.
He'll tackle any job, whether it be difficult or not.
The leader must be captured, whether he be alive or dead.
Negative form:
The negative is formed without any auxiliary :
I insist that we not consider the applicant for the position.
I insist that the applicant not be considered for the position.

Verbs that call for the Subjective Mood:
command - order - wish - suggest - recommend - request/ask - insist - demand...
The authorities command that the prisoners be treated well.
The officer commanded that he wear his uniform.
The King commanded that roads be built to link all his castles.

The officer ordered that food be given to the refugees.
The manager ordered that he leave the premises immediately
The government ordered that shelter be provided for the homeless.

I wish the occasion were less formal.
I wish I were tall and handsome/beautiful.
She wishes she were invisible.

I suggest that he take the train.
I suggest that he wear a tie at the interview.
I suggest that she start on Monday.

It is recommended that he arrive 30 mn before the meeting.
The doctor recommended that he give up smoking.
I recommend that each person bring something for our brunch.
The teacher recommended that Julia think more about it before deciding.

All we ask is that he reply to our letter.
We ask that you be honest and truthful.
Mr. Brown requested that the committee examine his proposal.
The organizer requests that we be present for the opening ceremony.

I insist that he finish the work as promised.
The manager insists that he work on Saturday to finish the project.
The customers insisted that the offer be maintained.

A UN resolution demanded that the country destroy all chemical weapons.
I demand that we be compensated for the damage to our house.
Her parents demand that she be given a chance to defend her position.

Expressions with adjectives that call for the subjunctive mood:
important - necessary - imperative - crucial - essential ...
Structure used : 'It is + adj + that'
Important: It is important that ...
his parents be present.
nobody outside the family know our plans.
the patient be told of the possible side effects.

Necessary: It is necessary that ...
a report be addressed to the authorities.
the committee provide copies for all the participants.
barriers be there for safety reasons.

Imperative: It is imperative that...
the inauguration begin on time.
he reply before the end of the month
the report be submitted before the end of the week.

Crucial: It is crucial that...
the donor arrive at the hospital on time.
the agreement be signed by all parties.
the laboratory transmit the results to the surgeon without delay.

Essential: It is essential that...
he submit his application before the end of the month.
that he be well-dressed for the interview.
the candidate listen carefully to the questions.
Examples of the subjunctive mood in well-known expressions :
"God save the King."
"Long live the Queen."
"Heaven forbid!"
"Peace be with you."
"So be it."
"Suffice it to say ..."
"If need be."
"Far be it from me ...."
"Woe betide ..."

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