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.  

General Writing and Grammar Help

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Richard Johnson


I can answer any question--usually the same day--on correct English grammar, usage, and (non-fiction) writing style, usually the same day, based on 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 primarily on the sixteenth edition of The Chicago Manual of Style.

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.

Awards and Honors
For many years a member of Mensa.

©2016 All rights reserved.