What Is the Subjunctive Mood? (with Examples)

What Is the Subjunctive Mood? (with Examples)

The subjunctive mood is the verb form used to express a wish, a suggestion, a command, or a condition that is contrary to fact.

The form of a verb in the subjunctive mood may differ from the form with the same subject which is not in the subjunctive mood. For example:
  • I was in your position two years ago.
  • (not in the subjunctive mood)
  • If I were in your position, I would do the same.
  • (subjunctive mood)

Examples of the Subjunctive Mood

Here are some examples of verbs in the subjunctive mood:
  • I wish it were still in use.
  • (it was becomes it were)
  • The board recommended that the motion be passed immediately.
  • (motion is passed becomes motion be passed)
  • She suggests that Mark work full time from Saturday.
  • (Mark works becomes Mark work)
  • He said it was essential that Johan guard the box.
  • (Johan guards becomes Johan guard)
  • It is imperative that the game begin at once.
  • (game begins becomes game begin)
Through common usage, the non-subjunctive forms of verbs are gradually replacing the subjunctive forms. Many of the examples above sound incorrect. In summary, the changes are:

Non-subjunctive Form Non-subjunctive
Subjunctive Form Subjunctive
is He is allowed. be It is essential he be allowed.
was I was ordered. were If I were ordered, I'd go.
present verbs in the third person singular (i.e., ending s) He cooks. remove the s I wish that he cook.

Verbs Which Attract the Subjunctive Mood

The following verbs often attract the subjunctive mood: ask, command, demand, insist, order, recommend, suggest, and wish.

Adjectives Which Attract the Subjunctive Mood

The following adjectives often attract the subjunctive mood: crucial, essential, important, imperative, and necessary.

What Is Mood?

Mood is the form a verb takes to show how it is to be regarded (e.g., as a fact, a command, a wish, an uncertainty).

There are three major moods in English:
  • The Indicative Mood. This states facts or asks questions. For example:
    • They are playing the guitar.
    • Are they playing the guitar?
  • The Imperative Mood. This expresses a command or a request. For example:
    • Play the guitar!
    • Please play the guitar.
  • The Subjunctive Mood. This shows a wish or doubt. For example:
    • I suggest that Lee play the guitar.
    • I propose that Lee be asked to play the guitar.
    • If I were Lee, I would play the guitar.
Interactive Test

See Also

What is mood? What are finite verbs? What is the imperative mood? What is the indicative mood? What is an interrogative sentence? What is an exclamatory sentence? What is an imperative sentence? What is a declarative sentence?Glossary of grammatical terms