Friday, November 27, 2015

Explaining the subjunctive

The subjunctive is one of the most difficult concepts to understand in grammar. In fact, it’s so complicated, that many publications ignore it. If the writer understands and uses the tense, or the editor is on top of her game and corrects it properly, that’s good. If it’s wrong well, too bad so sad.

However, to be professional, it’d be good to try to grasp the concept.

F.L. Bicknell, in The Grammar Police said, “Was and were, however, often suffer PMS. They have moods just like people do.”

The subjunctive mood is the verb form used to express a wish, a suggestion, a command, or a condition that is contrary to fact.
For example, “I was the proud owner of two hundred frogs.” This is a true past statement.
“If I were the owner of two hundred frogs I’d be really happy.” I don’t own them, but I’d like to, so subjunctive.

Because the subjunctive is about something that is not currently true, a hint that *was* ought to be *were*, is often *if*… followed by could or would.
“If I were rich I could buy two hundred frogs.”

Remember, the subjunctive tense applies only to something that isn’t currently true.

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

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