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    #1

    subjunctive (again)!!!

    I happened to come across this article on wikipedia: Subjunctive mood - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    It says, "This use of the subjunctive is known as the mandative subjunctive or the jussive subjunctive and is said to be the most common use of the subjunctive in English. Other authorities say this use is much less common than that in suppositions or hypotheses (e.g. "If she asked for help, I'd help her.") and is often not found in UK English, not even in respected news media.
    UK English often uses present indicative or even past indicative − which are both considered incorrect by many people in the UK and (prescriptive) UK authorities on language usage − or a construction with "should". Much time is spent in the UK in trying to prevent this language change well underway in UK English, and the use with "should" is arguably better because not considered as ungrammatical by most. Therefore, instead of writing No wonder the Tory Party turned him down as a possible candidate, suggesting he went away and came back with a better public image. as in the Guardian (which would be almost impossible to find in any US newspapers, which would always use the traditional go away and come back), it would be considered less ungrammatical to use should go away. Some authorities like Ernest Gowers even recommend the use with should (in UK English) instead of the untenable traditional forms."

    What are your thoughts on the example given above? Would you say '...suggesting he go away...' or '...suggesting he went away...'? Before this I would say the latter without a doubt. But after reading this article, I'm troubled.


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    #2

    Re: subjunctive (again)!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by language_fanatic View Post
    I happened to come across this article on wikipedia: Subjunctive mood - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    It says, "This use of the subjunctive is known as the mandative subjunctive or the jussive subjunctive and is said to be the most common use of the subjunctive in English. Other authorities say this use is much less common than that in suppositions or hypotheses (e.g. "If she asked for help, I'd help her.") and is often not found in UK English, not even in respected news media.
    UK English often uses present indicative or even past indicative − which are both considered incorrect by many people in the UK and (prescriptive) UK authorities on language usage − or a construction with "should". Much time is spent in the UK in trying to prevent this language change well underway in UK English, and the use with "should" is arguably better because not considered as ungrammatical by most. Therefore, instead of writing No wonder the Tory Party turned him down as a possible candidate, suggesting he went away and came back with a better public image. as in the Guardian (which would be almost impossible to find in any US newspapers, which would always use the traditional go away and come back), it would be considered less ungrammatical to use should go away. Some authorities like Ernest Gowers even recommend the use with should (in UK English) instead of the untenable traditional forms."

    What are your thoughts on the example given above? Would you say '...suggesting he go away...' or '...suggesting he went away...'? Before this I would say the latter without a doubt. But after reading this article, I'm troubled.
    I would say "suggesting he go away and come back".

    If one says or writes "suggesting he went away and came back", then it really means that one is suggesting that the truth is that he went away and came back.

    I agree with the article. As an American English speaker, I would use the base form of the verb in the situation outlined in the language article you posted. And this is not because I want to prescribe correct grammar. This is simply what sounds better and more natural to me. I would, however, take it further to explain why it sounds better and, therefore, why it's correct.

    Use the "traditional way", as the article calls it. If you are speaking or writing for a U.S. audience, you can't go wrong. And though this language change is well under way in Britain, as the article suggests, you can still use the "traditional way", as no one is bound to criticize you for this. Still, if you want to speak and write British English, then you could use the "non-traditional way", but be consistent. If you want to speak and write American English, then stick to what we would refer to in this case as subjunctive. This is a very fine point, but nonetheless an important one. It's a fine point because it is only obvious and apparent that there is a present subjunctive in English when we use third person singular, in which case we drop the "s", and when we use the verb "be", for which we use the base form, meaning the verb doesn't change.

    It's important that we be clear about what we will accept when we begin negotiating the contract renewal.
    Last edited by PROESL; 05-Aug-2009 at 15:56.


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    #3

    Re: subjunctive (again)!!!

    Here's another article on the present subjunctive in English. Scroll down to read the article.

    The English subjunctive: scholarly opinions

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    #4

    Re: subjunctive (again)!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by PROESL View Post
    I would say "suggesting he go away and come back".

    If one says or writes "suggesting he went away and came back", then it really means that one is suggesting that the truth is that he went away and came back.
    I don't think so, I would understand it as just a jussive subjunctive in historic sequence.

    As a Brit, I would be more likely to use the construction with "should", though I do use subjunctives too. I would regard the use of an indicative ("suggesting that he goes...") as incorrect. Horrible, in fact.


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    #5

    Re: subjunctive (again)!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by orangutan View Post
    I don't think so, I would understand it as just a jussive subjunctive in historic sequence.
    Hello Anthony

    What do you mean by saying 'historic sequence'? Please elaborate.

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    #6

    Re: subjunctive (again)!!!

    Hello Peter,

    I mean the change of tense in reported speech, shifting it towards the past when the main verb is past. So a present subjunctive in such a context could appear as past subjunctive.

    "I suggest that he go away."
    -->
    "I suggested that he went away."

    (The term is from Classical philology, I don't know how common it is in TEFL. Sorry if I was being misleading.)


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    #7

    Re: subjunctive (again)!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by orangutan View Post
    "I suggested that he went away."
    This is indicative mood to me.

    If I am not mistaken, your point is this:
    No wonder the Tory Party turned him down as a possible candidate, suggesting he went away and came back with a better public image
    PROESL suggested the use of past tense forms in the sub suggests the referent of 'he' actually went away and came back.

    You said it is not entirely true. According to you it is only an example of backshift to align the verb tenses.

    Correct?

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    #8

    Re: subjunctive (again)!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by svartnik View Post
    This is indicative mood to me.
    Morphologically it could be either.


    If I am not mistaken, your point is this:


    PROESL suggested the use of past tense forms in the sub suggests the referent of 'he' actually went away and came back.

    You said it is not entirely true. According to you it is only an example of backshift to align the verb tenses.

    Correct?
    Yes. That is to say it could be, and that is how I would most naturally understand it.


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    #9

    Re: subjunctive (again)!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by orangutan View Post
    Morphologically it could be either.
    IMO the verb in the sub is either present subjunctive or past indicative. Subjunctive is non-finite and not prone to backshift, right? I cannot put my finger on the subjunctive reading of the past verb form.

    Quote Originally Posted by orangutan View Post
    Yes. That is to say it could be, and that is how I would most naturally understand it.

    Thanks.

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    #10

    Re: subjunctive (again)!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by svartnik View Post
    IMO the verb in the sub is either present subjunctive or past indicative. Subjunctive is non-finite and not prone to backshift, right? I cannot put my finger on the subjunctive reading of the past verb form.
    We are talking about "went" (in the example I gave a couple of posts ago)? In my books the present subjunctive would be "(that) he go".

    I am not sure why subjunctives shouldn't be subject to backshift. I would be interested to know if there is a rule to that effect. It is quite possible that I am wrong.
    Last edited by orangutan; 05-Aug-2009 at 19:24.

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