Monday, March 2, 2020
The Subjunctive Mood
The Subjunctive Mood The Subjunctive Mood The Subjunctive Mood By Jacquelyn Landis No single part of speech gives writers more grief than the mighty verb. Think about all the elements you must take into consideration when forming verbs. They have tense, number, person, voice, and mood. Where things get especially dicey is with a verbs mood, in particular, the subjunctive mood. Take a look at this sentence: I wish I was/were vacationing on a tropical island instead of at my desk working. The correct verb choice is the second one: were. It expresses the subjunctive mood, something we use to convey a wish or a condition that isnt true. And since the speaker isnt actually vacationing on a tropical island, this is a perfect case for using the subjunctive mood. Most writers will intuitively plunk in some form of a past-tense version of the verb to be in a sentence like our example. The important thing to remember about the subjunctive mood is to choose the correct version. When using the subjunctive mood, the correct version is were. One good test is to mentally add but Im not to the sentence. If that makes it a true statement, then its a likely candidate for the subjunctive mood: I wish I were vacationing on a tropical island instead of at my desk working (but Im not). If he were ten feet tall (but hes not), he could wash the windows without using a ladder. You might hear that the subjunctive mood is fading from common use, and thats probably true (Maeve wrote about that on The irrealis Ã¢â¬Å"wereÃ¢â¬ ). However, its still a hallmark of correct usage, and savvy writers will try hard to get it right. Tevye, from Fiddler on the Roof, got it right in the song If I Were a Rich Man. So did Bobby Darin in If I Were a Carpenter. It might be one of the worst songs of all time, but the grammar is spot-on. Want to improve your English in five minutes a day? Get a subscription and start receiving our writing tips and exercises daily! Keep learning! Browse the Grammar category, check our popular posts, or choose a related post below:Is She a "Lady" or a "Woman"?Hyper and Hypo"Wracking" or "Racking" Your Brain?