General Writing and Grammar Help/Subjunctive


In most Lantin Root languages the subjunctive mood is mandatory, but not consistently in English, both American as well as UK.  Is this an error or appropriate usage?

I don't claim any expertise in British English. In American English, use of the subjunctive mood is largely gone. Certain expressions effectively demand use of the subjunctive--e.g. "if I were you," "I require/suggest that he leave now." I would consider substitution of the indicative in such an expression an error, although it would be most unusual for anyone to commit it. (The most likely candidate would be a non-native speaker who might be confused about the extent to which the subjunctive mood has disappeared here.) The subjective persists in some stock expressions, as "perish the thought," "be that as it may", and these of course cannot be used with the indicative. It's never wrong to use the subjunctive appropriately, although it can sound stilted.  

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Richard Johnson


I specialize in grammar. I can however answer any question except homework questions--usually the same day--concerning English grammar, usage, or (non-fiction) writing style, on the basis of the American practice. All answers are explained, and I encourage follow-up.


I'm a retired editor and a lifelong student of this subject. My library includes a great many works to which I've referred through the years. I currently rely largely on the sixteenth edition of The Chicago Manual of Style supplemented, where appropriate, by Long, The New College Grammar.

For over 30 years I edited the newsletter of my own organization, which had different names but was last known as

BA, Brooklyn College. Advanced studies in economics and political science.

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For many years a member of Mensa.

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