subjunctive mood

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From subjunctive (from Latin subjunctivus, from sub- (under) + junctus (joined), perfect passive participle of jungere (to join) + adjective suffix -ivus) + mood (from Latin modus).


  • If John were here, he would know what to do.
  • If this be liberty, then give me death!
  • I wish that I were there.
  • I want that he go.

subjunctive mood (plural subjunctive moods)

  1. (grammar) Mood expressing an action or state which is hypothetical or anticipated rather than actual, including wishes and commands.
    Synonyms: conjunctive, conjunctive mode, conjunctive mood, subjunctive, subjunctive mode

Usage notes[edit]

Subjunctive mood is used much more in some other languages, such as Spanish and Latin, than it is in English. Apart from the third-person singular form without the suffix -(e)s (I want that he go), modern English has only one verb that has mutually distinguishable indicative and subjunctive forms — be.

  • be (subjunctive present, all persons except for archaic second-person singular)
I suggest that that measure be taken.
  • beest (archaic second-person singular, subjunctive present)
1610–1611, William Shakespeare, “The Tempest”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act III, scene ii]:
Stephano!—If thou beest Stephano, touch me, and speak to me; for I am Trinculo:—be not afeared—thy good friend Trinculo.
  • wert (archaic second-person singular, subjunctive past)
Bible (King James Version), London: Robert Barker, 1611, Job 8:6: “If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee, [] ”.
Bible (King James Version), London: Robert Barker, 1611, Revelation 3:15: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.”.
  • were (first- and third-person singular, subjunctive past)
If John were here, he would know what to do.

See also the conjugation at be.


Further reading[edit]