Lecture 10 Subjunctive mood
Use of subjunctive mood
Other ways of expressing hypothetical
What is Mood?
Mood is a finite verb form that indicates whether
an utterance expresses a fact, a command or request,
or a non-fact and hypothesis.
the indicative mood
the imperative mood
the subjunctive mood
The yellow leaves are falling in the autumn wind.
Keep off the grass.
I wish I were a white cloud.
If she were to marry Jack, she would be happy.
Subjunctive mood: remnants of Old English
1. Use:
Hypothetical meaning
Non-factual meaning
2. mostly in formal and literary language:
regulations and legal documents, or poetry etc.
3. Two types:
• BE-subjunctive: realized by the base form
of a verb
• WERE-subjunctive: realized by the verb
• 1. In certain that-clause
• to express a command, decision, suggestion, etc.
or express the idea of necessity, importance etc.
• Regulations require that officers not enter the crime
scene without protective clothing.
• She insisted that she pay her own way.
• It is important that she talk to him in person.
• We were faced with the demand that this tax be
• after such verbs as decide, demand, insist, move,
order, prefer, propose, recommend, request,
require, suggest, vote, etc.
• and after such adjectives as advisable, appropriate,
desirable, essential, fitting, imperative, important,
necessary, obligatory, proper, etc.
• and after such nouns as decision, demand, proposal,
instruction, order, requirement, resolution, etc.
• He advised that the doctor be sent for.
• It is advisable that the doctor be sent for.
• His advice was that the doctor be sent for.
• It is vital that every applicant complete the form in
triplicate. (subjunctive)
• It is vital that every applicant should complete the
form in triplicate. (should + infinitive)
• It is vital for every applicant to complete the form in
triplicate. (for + subject + to-infinitive)
• ? He insisted that he ___ (involve) in the
• ? He suggested that his friend’s pride ___
(prevent) him accepting the offer.
• ? A Norwegian biologist, Gulberg, decided
that this problem of circular movement ___
(be) worth investigation.
• It is important for him to be nominated.
• He advised her to wait for a few weeks.
• May our great motherland live long.
• 2. In certain adverbial clauses
• in adverbial clauses introduced by if, though,
whatever, so long as, whether, lest, etc.
• The movie star is wearing sunglasses lest he be
recognized. = should be
• Whatever be your reason for that, we shall
not tolerate your dishonesty. = may be
• If the rumor be true, everything is possible.
• Though everyone desert you, I will not.
3. In certain formulaic expressions
to express a wish,prayer,curse,etc.
formal and old-fashioned in style
Long live the People's Republic of China!
God bless you!
So be it.
Far be it from me to spoil the fun.
Be it ever so humble, there is no place like home.
No man loves his fetters, be they made of gold.
Let justice be done, though heaven fall.
May all the lovers in the world be couples in the
• hypothetical or unreal in meaning
• It has only one form--- were
1. In certain adverbial clauses
introduced by if, if only, as if, as though, etc to denote
an unreal condition or concession
If I were you, I would think twice before accepting that offer.
If only I were thin.
He spoke to me as if I were deaf.
Though the whole world were against me, I would do what I
consider as right.
If I were a bird, I would fly by your window from morning to
evening without stop, and sing the love song in my heart for
2. In certain nominal clauses
in nominal clauses after verbs like wish, would
rather, suppose, imagine, etc to denote a
hypothetical situation:
I wish it were spring all the year round. (was)
I wish I were coming with you. (was)
Suppose he were to fail. (was)
Provided that she were sincere with me, I should
forgive her a lot.
Some other ways of expressing hypothetical meanings
1. Use of past tense forms of verbs:
a) It is time (that)...:
• It is time (that) we left this place.
It is high time (that) you made up your mind.
• b) I would rather / sooner (that) you / he / they ...
I'm sure he is keeping something back: I'd rather he told
me the truth.
They offered me this expensive wine, but frankly I'd rather
they had offered me some beer.
• c) If only …: .
• If only 1 knew her address.
If only she had listened to my advice.
• If only he hadn’t been driving so fast!
• d) ... as if / as though ... :
• He behaves as if he owned this place.
• They are acting as if nothing had happened.
• I read an excellent book, it is to me just as if I had
gained a new friend.
• e) I wish (that)...:
• I wish the sun was shining at this moment.
I wish I hadn't eaten so much last night.
• 2. Use of past tense modals---hypothesis
• In conditionals:
• If she had been invited,she would have attended
the meeting.
If you should change your mind, do let me know.
• If only I could speak several languages!
Subjunctive in if-clauses: the most common use
If I were tired, I would have a rest.
If he had set out earlier, he would have caught the early bus.
1. If I should have time tomorrow, I would go to
the library.
2. If he were to come here this evening, we
would invite him to attend the party.
3. If it rained this afternoon, the football match
would be postponed until next Saturday.
• In if-clause, the subjunctive mood is used with would,
could, etc. in the main clause and were in the
dependent clause.
• But for his help,I couldn't have achieved anything.
Given more time, we would do it better.
We could have won the battle, but we were impatient.
• It would be a pity for you to miss the show.
• The same thing, happening in war time, would amount
to a disaster.
• Reading without thorough comprehension wouldn’t do
you much good.
• implied conditionals
• If I were you, I wouldn’t have missed the film last
• If they had left home in early morning, they would
arrive in half an hour.
• If you hesitated this moment, you might suffer in
the future.
• Conditionals of mixed time
in other contexts:
That she should forget me so quickly was rather a shock.
Oh that I could see him again!=I wish I could see him again.
Would that the flood might never come again!
To think that he should have deserted his wife and children!
Who would have thought that the man living next door should
be a hidden terrorist?
He stepped into a cave and what should he see but a tigress
with her baby tigers.
1. He left orders that nothing ____ touched until the
police arrived here.
A. be B. ought to be
C. must be D. would be
2. I was to have made a speech if ____.
A. I was not called away B. nobody would have called me
C. I had not been called away D. nobody called me away
3. If you have really been studying English for so long, it’s
about time you ____ able to write letters in English.
A. should be B. were
C. must be D. are
5. If your car ____ any attention during the first 12
month, take it to an authorized dealer.
A. shall need B. should need C. would need D. will need
6. All of us would have enjoyed the party much more if
there _ quite such a crowd of people there.
A. weren't
B. hasn’t been
C. hadn’t been D. wouldn't be
7. ____ for the fact that she broke her leg, she might have
passed the exam.
A. Had it not been
B. Hadn’t it been
C. Was it not
D. Were it not
• 2000 49. All of us would have enjoyed the party much more if
there___ quite such a crowd of people there.
A. weren’t B. hasn’t been C. hadn’t been
D. wouldn’t be
2002 50. _______ for the fact that she broke her leg, she might
have passed the exam.
A. Had it not been B. Hadn’t it been C. Was it not D. Were it not
51. “ What courses are you going to do next semester?”
“ I don’t know. But its about time _______ on something.”
A. I’d decide B. I decided C. I decide D. I’m deciding
• 2004 42.____, I’ll marry him all the same.
A. Was he rich or poor B. Whether rich or poor
• C. Were he rich or poor D. Be he rich or poor
44.____ if I had arrived yesterday without letting you know
A. Would you be surprised B. Were you surprised
• C. Had you been surprised D. Would you have been surprised
• 46.It is imperative that students ____ their term papers on time.
• A. hand in B. would hand in C. have to hand in D. handed in
• 2005 51. If you explained the situation to your solicitor, he ________ able to
advise you much better than I can.
A. would be
B. will have been
C. was
D. were
60. That was not the first time he ________ us. I think it’s high time we
________ strong actions against him.
A. betrayed…take
B. had betrayed…took
C. has betrayed…took
D. has betrayed…take
63. ________ you _______ further problems with your printer, contact your
dealer for advice.
A. If, had
B. Have, had
C. Should, have
D. In case, had
• 52. If only I __play the guitar as well as you!
A would B could C should D might
54 It's high time we __ cutting down the rainforests.
A stopped B had to stop C shall stop D stop
57 I am surprised__ this city is a dull place to live in.
A that you should think B by what you are thinking
• C that you would think D with what you were thinking
59 It is imperative that the government __ more investment into the
shipbuilding industry.
• A attracts B shall attract C attract D has to
• 2007 54.If only the patient ______a different treatment instead
of using the antibiotics, he might still be alive now.
A. had received B. received C. should receive D. were receiving
60.He would have finished his college education, but he
_______to quit and find a job to support his family.
A. had B. has C. had D. would have
65.It is absolutely essential that William ________his study in
spite of some learning difficulties.
A. will continue B. continued C. continue D. continues
2008 52. Had Judy been more careful on the maths exam, she
____ much better results now.
A. would be getting B. could have got C. must get D. would get
2009 52. If there were no subjunctive mood, English _____
much easier to learn.
A. could have been B. would be C. will be D. would have been
Thank you!