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Thread: the subjunctive

  1. #11
    Tdol is online now Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: the subjunctive

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    Interesting poll, Tdol. I see very few American speakers chose "saved."

    So, if I say to you today "Peter, try to see it through to the end," then tomorrow, I would say "I recommended that he see it through to the end" but a BrE speaker might say "She recommended that he saw it through to the end."

    Is that correct? (The difference across the pond continue to befuddle me.)
    Yes, a BrE speaker could say that.

  2. #12
    Tdol is online now Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: the subjunctive

    Quote Originally Posted by 2006 View Post
    In the sentence, "They suggested we saved our work on a disc.", how is one to know whether "saved" refers to a past or a future action? (One would think it refers to a past action.)
    This seems to be a significant hazard of using past tense for a possible future action.
    If the time were important, we'd have to express it some other way, but then we could have the same problem with past tense modal verbs for the future without context.

  3. #13
    albertino is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: the subjunctive

    Quote Originally Posted by balakrishnanijk View Post
    Dear 2006

    I am not very familiar with Birtish English or American English and what we use here is a confused mixture of different kinds of Englishes. What Mr. Swan says in his book is that the subjunctive construction is mostly used in American English and that British people prefer either the should construction or the present/past variety. Being a grammarian, Mr. Swan is keenly aware of the trends in Birtish English and I am not supposed to oppugn his scholarship. What do you think of it?
    Disclaimer: I'm not a teacher.
    In one of the subjunctive constructions, where the
    subject + recommend (suggest desire, demand, propose, order, request, insist, command…) + that sb. should + basic form of the verb, we usually omit the auxiliary verb "should" in the sentence, and therefore we get:

    "The judge recommended that the prisoner (should) be returned to prison" (right)

    Always put the word "should" back in its place when you make such a construction and you won't get it wrong.

    "The judge recommended that the prisoner (should) (be) was kept in prison for another three months" (wrong)
    Got it?

    Last edited by albertino; 03-Aug-2007 at 10:43.

  4. #14
    2006 is offline Banned
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    Default Re: the subjunctive

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    If the time were important, we'd have to express it some other way, but then we could have the same problem with past tense modal verbs for the future without context.
    Well, the time is important; we are talking about a future action. And there is no lack of clarity with 'They suggested we save our work on a disc.'

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