I recently read a paper by a Japanese researcher which suggested that the use of the present subjunctive is changing in BrE.
Thus although the general tendency in BrE is still to avoid the subjunctive after verbs such as "recommend", "suggest", etc., and replace it with "should" + infinitive, as in #1 below, you do increasingly hear a present subjunctive, as in #2:
1. He recommended that the Portuguese midfielder should be punished severely for his compulsive diving in the penalty area.
2. He recommended that the Portuguese midfielder be punished severely for his compulsive diving in the penalty area.
I haven't noticed any particular increase in the use of the past subjunctive. For instance, you will often hear "was" for "were" in the 1st and 3rd persons singular in BrE when people are discussing hypothetical situations in business or politics, e.g.
3. If he was serious about wanting the job, he would get in touch.
4. We would all vote Liberal, if Mr Grimond was still leader.
The past subjunctive is nonetheless still very common, especially in phrases such as "if I were you", or where a more "considered" air is required:
5. If that were true, we would have to conclude that evolutionary biology is based on a false premise.
I'd be interested to hear what other members think, though.
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