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  1. #1
    swimagic is offline Newbie
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    Default subjunctive or not

    hi, teachers,

    I read a news article titled Obama faces newly elected governors, and i'm not sure if I get the grammar right in one sentence as follow.

    Their arguments won out and Republicans will control a majority of statehouses nationwide come January.

    (their arguments meaning Repulicans's arguments for overturning the health care overhaul and canceling Obama's economic stimulus spending.)



    My questions are:

    1. Their arguments won out -


    a) is this a subjunctive mode? (if yes, what's the full sentence?) does it have anything to do with the absolute construction?

    b) or is it a declarative one, meaning that Republicans did win out?


    2. come January - is this a subjunctive mode? (if yes, what's the full sentence?)


    Thx in advance.
    Last edited by swimagic; 04-Dec-2010 at 12:27. Reason: checked some typos

  2. #2
    corum is offline Banned
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    Default Re: subjunctive or not

    1. Their arguments won out -


    a) is this a subjunctive mode?
    No, the verb phrase is in indicative mood.

    a) is this a subjunctive mode? (if yes, what's the full sentence?) does it have anything to do with the absolute construction?
    No and no.

    come January - is this a subjunctive mode?
    No, it is a prepositional phrase in form and a temporal adjunct, an adverbial, in function.

    come - definition. American English definition of come by Macmillan Dictionary

  3. #3
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: subjunctive or not

    As Corum well knows, I am not a fan of the subjunctive, and I think that claims are sometimes made that verb forms are subjunctive when they are not.

    However, with 'come January', I have to say that I think this is a subjunctive form.

    "
    Present subjunctive come is used in a temporal clause (generally initial) without a subordinator:

    Come winter, we'll have to pay a great deal more for vegetables and fruit, ['When winter comes, ...']
    " Quirk et al (1985)

    Only a subjunctive reading can account for the loss of the -s ending on come.

  4. #4
    corum is offline Banned
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    Default Re: subjunctive or not

    Only a subjunctive reading can account for the loss of the -s ending on come.
    Or the interpretation that there is a verb 'come' and a preposition 'come'. Would the implications of adopting this theory violate the integrity of the English grammar?


    Come winter, we'll have to pay a great deal more for vegetables and fruit,
    What type of modality is expressed in this sentence? Do we use the subjunctive for that type of modality? That is why I do not see any motivation yet for adopting this interpretation. But I am sure it has its merits; it is just that I can't appreciate them yet.

  5. #5
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: subjunctive or not

    Quote Originally Posted by corum View Post
    Or the interpretation that there is a verb 'come' and a preposition 'come'.
    Well, that's a novel thought. A quick look through List of English prepositions - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia suggests to me that there are no other prepositions so intimately linked with a verb and its core meaning. As the idea behind 'come' is so closely linked with the (verbal) idea of 'coming', I find the suggestion that 'come' is a preposition less convincing than that it is a verb. Would your preposition interpretation extend to 'come what may', 'come hell or high water'?
    What type of modality is expressed in this sentence? Do we use the subjunctive for that type of modality?
    Good question.
    Is it possible that the thought behind it is not Quirk's ,when winter comes, but rather 'assuming that winter come'?

    p.s. Swimagic, I agree with the first two of Corum's three original answers.
    Last edited by 5jj; 04-Dec-2010 at 23:03. Reason: p.s. added

  6. #6
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    Default Re: subjunctive or not

    Continuation of #5

    I have located examples of other verbs that appear to be used in a similar way to come, as we are discussing it. If they are so used, then the categorisation of come as a subjunctive form of a verb seems more likely.

    Curme (1931) notes a ‘Volitive Subjunctive’ and gives examples such as : Suffice it to say that; laugh those that can, weep those that may.

    He also notes ‘Optative Subjunctives', example: Say what he will, he cannot make matters worse.

    Curme, George O (1931) Syntax, Boston: D C Heath

  7. #7
    corum is offline Banned
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    Default Re: subjunctive or not

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    Is it possible that the thought behind it is not Quirk's ,when winter comes, but rather 'assuming that winter come'?
    No.

    Come winter, we'll have to pay a great deal more for vegetables and fruit.
    In (Next) winter...
    When winter comes...

    I have to ruminate about this more.

    Come what may
    That may triggers the subjunctive. No?

    come hell or high water'
    Hypothetical, subjunctive.

    As the idea behind 'come' is so closely linked with the (verbal) idea of 'coming'
    Let sleeping dogs lie.
    Which dogs? Sleeping dogs. The big brown sleeping dogs. Adjective.
    What are the sleeping dogs doing? They are sleeping. Verb.

  8. #8
    corum is offline Banned
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    Default Re: subjunctive or not

    Quote Originally Posted by corum View Post
    Let sleeping dogs lie.
    Which dogs? Sleeping dogs. The big brown sleeping dogs. Adjective.
    What are the sleeping dogs doing? They are sleeping. Verb.
    With my wrong reasoning I managed to convince myself over to the subjunctive reading.

    In the quoted part I fail to recognize the difference between form and function. Although 'sleeping' indeed modifies 'dogs', it still belongs to the formal class of verbs. This is still a verb in present participle form. That it functions like an adjective is a different kettle of fish.

    Come winter...

    I still have a problem in understanding why resort is made here to the subjunctive. No wish, no hypothetical proposition.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: subjunctive or not

    1.
    Corum: Come what may
    That may triggers the subjunctive. No?

    Fivejedjon: I don't think so. I think it's : come what may (come).
    The second (implied) come is a bare infinitive following may. The first is, I think, a subjunctive.

    2.
    Corum: Come winter...

    I still have a problem in understanding why resort is made here to the subjunctive. No wish, no hypothetical proposition.

    Fivejedjon: My suggestion of 'assumption' was an attempt to answer this.

  10. #10
    corum is offline Banned
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    Default Re: subjunctive or not

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    Fivejedjon: I don't think so. I think it's : come what may (come).
    The second (implied) come is a bare infinitive following may. The first is, I think, a subjunctive.
    Cross my heart it crossed my mind.



    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    2.
    Corum: Come winter...

    I still have a problem in understanding why resort is made here to the subjunctive. No wish, no hypothetical proposition.

    Fivejedjon: My suggestion of 'assumption' was an attempt to answer this.

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