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    #1

    Subjunctive after "so that"

    Is it correct to use the subjunctive after "so that"? Is the following sentence correct?

    I've bought her a necklace so that she be happy.

    I read somewhere it wasn't correct. I wasn't convinced by the arguments though.

    I feel there are two kinds of so-thats, one used to talk about causes and effects, and one used to talk about purposes. I'll try to show what I mean on examples.

    1. She bored them so that they fell asleep.
    It wasn't her purpose to make them fall asleep. I think this sentence (if it's correct) can be reworded this way:
    1a. She bored them so much that they fell asleep.
    I understand that, since we're talking about facts here, we must use the indicative mood.
    2. I'm going to tell a lot of jokes so that everybody listen/listens to me.
    The purpose of my telling jokes is to make everybody listen to me. Should I use the subjunctive or the indicative? Or maybe neither is correct and I should use "would listen"?

    The idea of using the subjunctive here is appealing to me. In my language, we use the same structure here as we do in cases in which the subjunctive is correct in English. Also it seems to me that it nicely deals with the problem of the ambiguity of "so that" (about whose existence I may be wrong of course).

  1. Raymott's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Subjunctive after "so that"

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    Is it correct to use the subjunctive after "so that"? Is the following sentence correct?

    I've bought her a necklace so that she be happy.

    I read somewhere it wasn't correct. I wasn't convinced by the arguments though.

    I feel there are two kinds of so-thats, one used to talk about causes and effects, and one used to talk about purposes. I'll try to show what I mean on examples.

    1. She bored them so that they fell asleep.
    It wasn't her purpose to make them fall asleep. I think this sentence (if it's correct) can be reworded this way:
    1a. She bored them so much that they fell asleep.
    I understand that, since we're talking about facts here, we must use the indicative mood.
    2. I'm going to tell a lot of jokes so that everybody listen/listens to me.
    The purpose of my telling jokes is to make everybody listen to me. Should I use the subjunctive or the indicative? Or maybe neither is correct and I should use "would listen"?

    The idea of using the subjunctive here is appealing to me. In my language, we use the same structure here as we do in cases in which the subjunctive is correct in English. Also it seems to me that it nicely deals with the problem of the ambiguity of "so that" (about whose existence I may be wrong of course).
    I'm not sure if it's right, but I've never heard it, and it sounds wrong.
    We do say:
    "I bought her a necklace in order that she be happy."
    "I bought her a necklace so that she would be happy."
    "I've bought her a necklace so that she will be happy."
    "She tried to bore them so much that they'd fall asleep.

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    #3

    Re: Subjunctive after "so that"

    Also: "I've made her a cup of coffee so that she doesn't fall asleep / shouldn't fall asleep / could or can take part in the discussion, etc."

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    #4

    Re: Subjunctive after "so that"

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    "I've bought her a necklace so that she will be happy."
    Can this mean, "I've bought her a necklace and she will be happy because of that"?

  2. Munch's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Subjunctive after "so that"

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    Can this mean, "I've bought her a necklace and she will be happy because of that"?
    Not to my ears, but "I've bought her a necklace so she will be happy." can.

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