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The subjunctive mood is used to talk about an action or a state that is in doubt or not factual.


Present Subjunctive

The present subjunctive is formed with the base form of the verb (without to) and occurs only in noun clauses beginning with that. These clauses follow words that express suggestions, demands, or requests. Note, however, that the Subjunctive is only noticeable in specific forms and tenses. In the examples given below, the Subjunctive is not noticeable in the you-form of the verb, but it is noticeable in the he and she forms of the verb.


The Subjunctive is used after the following verbs:

  • to advise (that)
  • to ask (that)
  • to command (that)
  • to demand (that)
  • to desire (that)
  • to insist (that)
  • to propose (that)
  • to recommend (that)
  • to request (that)
  • to suggest (that)
  • to urge (that)


Examples :

    • The boss requested that Maria work overtime.
    • The doctor recommended that she sleep more.
    • The teacher insisted that Tom give a presentation.
    • Her colleagues proposed that she apply for the position.


The Subjunctive is used after the following adjectives:

  • It is best (that)
  • It is crucial (that)
  • It is desirable (that)
  • It is essential (that)
  • It is imperative (that)
  • It is important (that)
  • It is recommended (that)
  • It is urgent (that)
  • It is vital (that)
  • It is a good idea (that)
  • It is a bad idea (that)


Examples :

  • It is crucial that he be here before the meeting.
  • It is imperative that she leave now.
  • It is important he attend the conference.
  • It is recommended that he log in to access the website.


To make a subjunctive clause negative, add not before the subjunctive verb.

Examples :

  • I recommend that he not exercise until he feels better.
  • I suggest that you not take the job without renegotiating the salary.


Past Subjunctive

The past subjunctive is formed with the past form of a verb that describing a state, a condition, or a habit. It is used to talk about hypothetical or imaginary situations. With the verb be, the form were (not was) is usually used for all subjects.


The Past Subjunctive is used:

1.  After the verb wish to express an unfulfilled desire

 Examples :

  •  I wish Sally were here to help us.
  • He wishes he could run faster


2. After if (only) in second conditional sentences (followed by a clause with could, would, or might)

 Examples :

  • If people were more careful, there would be no accidents.
  • If I were you, I would accept that job.
  • She might like him if she knew him better.


3. After the verbs imagine and suppose, expressing unreal conditions (usually followed by a sentence with would or could)

 Examples :

  • Suppose you met the president. What would you tell him?
  • Imagine you were a millionaire. What would you do?


4. After as though or as if to make a comparison to an imaginary condition.

 Examples :

  • She acts as though she were the boss.
  • He looks as if he were rich.


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