How to Master the Subjunctive Mood


How to master the Subjunctive Mood

What mood are you in? The English grammar mood forms

The Mood is a grammar category that conveys the speaker’s attitude to what he is saying. When we say something we have a certain position towards it, be it positive, negative or even indifferent. That’s the “mood” as usually the word goes. The grammar mood and its categories differ, as it possesses other properties. (If you face any problems with expressing your thoughts in English, you can check the English editing service and the ways it can help). The grammar mood implies the speaker either believes that what he says is a fact of the reality (Indicative Mood), or not. This shows us the first level of the separation. Second, if the speaker doesn’t think the words reflect the facts, he still has some space to demonstrate his attitude towards it: it is either Active (expresses the desire, order, command directly, the speaker is concerned with the subject) or Passive (expresses the “would-be” desire, the speaker stands aloof, isn’t much concerned). The former position is defined as the Imperative mood, and the latter as Subjunctive mood.

Schematically it can be presented this way:

                                                   Grammar Mood

1.   Confidence / belief in the                                              2. Doubt or disbelief

     reality of the words spoken                                               in the words spoken

1.1) INDICATIVE MOOD                       2.1) IMPERATIVE MOOD                              2.2) SUBJUNCTIVE MOOD

                                                                                               (Active)                                                             (Passive)

Learning English is an important               Learn English as it is an                                 Learning English would be

task for the student                                      important task for the student                    useful as it is an important

                                                                                                                                                                   ask for the student

So we can see the use of the Subjunctive mood is based on the situation when the speaker is adopting the passive attitude to what he/she says, admits for the conditional or imaginary character of his words (and the facts they express). This is the most un-real (detached of reality) grammar category in this classification and it requires certain efforts to master it. However the result is worth it.

It also must be noted that recently the Subjunctive mood is used less frequent. The difficulty of placing the utterance, the thin line between imperative and the preference for the active mode, as well as peculiar way of verb and tense forms, serves to the gradual vanishing of this category, at least from the colloquial language. The widespread dialects of American English, Business English engage it rarely or do not implement at all. However the official papers and literary practice still use it due to its exquisite aesthetic properties. Implementing it, thus can be an indicator of the high level of the language proficiency. We can help you to reach the perfection in your text, just check the services of our English editors online.

When should we use the Subjunctive mood?

Use the Subjunctive mood when you intent to express:

  • Doubt – Shouldn’t we fill these forms today?
  • Uncertainty – Were it reasonable that this method be used?
  •  Regret – I wish the birds didn’t destroy the crops.
  • Passive desire (not a direct intention) – I’d like to be a master of the Subjunctive mood.
  • Polite request – I’d love if you handed me the sugar bowl.
  • Suggestion – They suggested that the teacher go to the park with them.
  • Necessity – It is necessary that the fish be fed daily.
  • Description of requests, demands or commands – I demanded that my lawyer arrive at the same time.
  • Dissatisfaction and the [passive] desire to get rid of it – I wish you’d stop smoking that much.  
  • Condition (as a part of a complex sentence) – She would fall in love with him if he were sociable and handsome.

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As for the expression of the Conditions, the Subjunctive mood is used in the following Conditional sentences:

  1. unlikely to happen in present – I’d take a ride on this roller coaster if it were not broken.
  2. unlikely to happen in future – Linda would loan you this amount  if she were to become rich within next week.
  3.  unreal past -  If Jacob had worked harder at his paper he wouldn’t have gotten a C for it.

If you’re looking for the ways to diversify your English and eventually to brighten up your papers in English, you may find useful the articles in our blog:

  1. How to Be the Online Essay Proofreader
  2. Several Important Ways of Paper Editing
  3. How Does Our College Essay Editing Service Work?
  4. We Provide Only Excellent Proofreading
  5. Proofreading For Students. Articles in English
  6. Who Can Help Me to Reword My Paper

The pitfalls on the way to master the Subjunctive mood

As you see there are plenty of situations where you can implement the Subjunctive mood in your speech. The more there are ways to do it. The most common of them are already listed above. Let us now take a closer look at the Subjunctive mood forms the use of which makes a difficult task for the non-native speakers (and for many of the native ones, too). See the ways our team of professional linguists may be of help to you, in our recent article All About Dissertation Proofreading Service UK.

Verbs. There are three ways the student can put the verb in the right form in the Subjunctive mood (and get out of his/her wits):

  1. Put it in the same form as would be applied for the Indicative mood: Angela demanded that the editing team proofread her paper. Another tip here: you can also add the modal verbs should or would: Angela demanded that the editing team should proofread her paper.
  2. For the verb in the third person of the Present tense, the ending –s/es isn’t to be used in the Subjunctive mood: It is essential that Linda attend the same classes as her friends.
  3.  The verb to be has the only form in the Subjunctive mood – were: If Bob were lucky he’d catch that train to Liverpool in time.

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Tense. This grammar category is connected tightly to the previous, however there is a special emphasize on the correct use of the Tenses in the Subjunctive mood. The reason is, the latter implies the imaginary, unreal time (I wish the money would grow on the trees.) so, technically, there is no actual tense. However as we cannot make a sentence without a tense, we’ve got to connect it to some time or period. There are certain peculiarities on using the tenses in the Subjunctive mood:

  1. Present Simple. This tense is applied when we use the constructions like I suggest, It is necessary, He thinks it essential that and so on. The Present Simple is applied in both the main and subordinate clauses. Luke’s father believes it is necessary that he attend the basketball section. I suggest she’d take this task seriously.
  2.  Past Simple. This is the most commonly used tense in the Subjunctive mood. It expresses the condition that could be called “unlikely to happen”. You will most probably hit the point with it while making your sentence in the Subjunctive. I wish you were not busy this afternoon. It can be used in the subordinate clause of the sentence, or in the main one. I suggested Liam and Jessica prepared this report together. If they knew how to use the Subjunctive mood they wouldn’t need to consult the specialist about it.
  3. Past Perfect. This tense is used to express the condition of some event or situation that took place (or did not) in the past, as the one that is not likely to happen at all (impossible to happen). The main clause of the sentence marked by either the Present simple or Past simple, or Past Perfect continuous, while the Past Perfect tense is applied in the subordinate clause. I wish you wouldn’t have left the pool uncovered during the rain. If Bonnie arrived earlier at the station yesterday, she would not have missed the train. If Steve had been home last week he would have helped you with your paper’ proofreading.
  4. Future Simple. This tense is one of the least frequently used in the Subjunctive mood. It is expressed not via its usual forms, but in a description mode, with the constructions such as  were to + verb: If he were to undertake this job, he would perform it in the best possible way.  Another way of expressing Future tense in the Subjunctive is to use the modal verbs would and should: If Carl would be appointed the director, he’d assign me the head of the division. Should this happen, we would advise you immediately.

The list above is not an exhaustive one, as the Subjunctive mood in English has a variety of expressions and the ways of their implementation. Here we described the most common ones that use to be difficult for non-native English speakers. Whatever is your level of the English language skill our article on writing and editing the essay in English may give you some important clues .

Ways to put up with the Subjunctive mood and its forms

Nowadays the linguists mark the almost extinct character of the Subjunctive mood in the colloquial language. It is gradually pushed outside by the modal verbs (would, should, could, must), non-infinitive constructions in the American English language (It is important that your books be put back to their places) and the use of Indicative and Imperative mood (I wish I had time to read this paper. – I want to read this paper but I have no time. – Give me some time to read this paper). Probably the most keen on surviving in the language flow is the form of the Subjunctive mood would+verb expressing the intention (I’d like to go to the cinema tonight. Would you hand me the tickets please?).

So, as can be concluded from the above, the less tied the category of grammar is to the reality, the more passive it is, the faster it is washed away from the everyday language spoken. This is one of the indicators of the global trends in the modern social life: active and ground-based approach. The supportive approach of our top ranked research paper editor will help you to master all the tricks of writing in English. 

Yet, in defense of the Subjunctive mood, it must be noted that it is frequently used in the Literature, in the Fine Letters that proves its aesthetic properties. It is a courteous form that serves to express the respect to another person’s feelings and intentions (I’d appreciate if the child stopped pulling at my dog’s hair sounds much more polite and agreeable than Tell you child not to pull at my dog’s hair). It requires the use of the special longer forms of the verb and the sentence and expresses the particular conditions, the slightest tints of emotions. Moreover, if you want to enrich your English, make it diverse and elegant, don’t miss the opportunity to master the Subjunctive mood. For that we recommend:

  • Read the authentic works of the English literature. The Subjunctive mood, its forms and the ways of expression must certainly be in the priority, but your main task is to plunge into the ambience of the novel and to absorb its “flavour”; to bring it into your English, eventually;
  •  Compare the ways of expression of the Subjunctive mood in English with those in your mother tongue. It turns out that it is much easier to learn the technique or category that is also presented in one’s native language. More so if it is presented and used wider than in the other language;
  • Use the communicative way to learn English. Use the Subjunctive mood in your everyday talk, while typing in a message in Viber or via e-mail;
  • Write down the dialogues you hear or read. Practice in converting them into the Subjunctive mood;
  • Say your dreams aloud. We all use to dream about something. Speak up your dreams – the Subjunctive mood will be there to help you.

Get to know more in this section:

  1. How to Master Future Perfect Tense
  2. How to Learn Future Present Tense
  3. Pieces of Advice of Usage Present Simple Tense
  4. Usage of Modal Verbs In Past And Present Tenses
  5. How to Keep Your English Skills Trained

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