Results 1 to 9 of 9
  1. salvador.dal1950's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Spanish
      • Home Country:
      • Argentina
      • Current Location:
      • Argentina

    • Join Date: Dec 2013
    • Posts: 129
    #1

    Grammar with "lest"

    Could someone explain to me how to use "lest"? I know what it means, but I cannot seem to fathom how to use it.

    Sometimes I found the bare infinitive: He spent whole days in his room, headphones on lest he disturb anyone.

    Sometimes I found the verb conjugated: They were afraid to complain about the noise lest they annoyed the neighbours.

    Both sentences are talking about the past and describe the possibility of something happening so, I think that grammatically they are identical.

    I gather it has something to do with the subjunctive mood (whatever that is).

    Thank you folks!

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia

    • Join Date: Dec 2014
    • Posts: 42
    #2

    Re: Grammar with "lest"

    It can mean "because it may lead to {something negative}" or "for fear of"

    I wore sunglasses lest she see me weeping.

    Subjunctive mood is used after "lest". See http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/lest. In subjunctive mood the subject-verb agreement rule changes to infinitive.


    We were worried lest we be seen to be hostile.

  2. salvador.dal1950's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Spanish
      • Home Country:
      • Argentina
      • Current Location:
      • Argentina

    • Join Date: Dec 2013
    • Posts: 129
    #3

    Re: Grammar with "lest"

    Quote Originally Posted by jawgar View Post
    It can mean "because it may lead to {something negative}" or "for fear of"

    I wore sunglasses lest she see me weeping.

    Subjunctive mood is used after "lest". See http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/lest. In subjunctive mood the subject-verb agreement rule changes to infinitive.


    We were worried lest we be seen to be hostile.
    But then, why the second example from my post doesn't have the infinitive? I took it from a Cambridge dictionary, so I assume is correct.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia

    • Join Date: Dec 2014
    • Posts: 42
    #4

    Re: Grammar with "lest"

    Not 100% sure. Subjunctive form takes careful study (and life is short ).

  3. Matthew Wai's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • China
      • Current Location:
      • Hong Kong

    • Join Date: Nov 2013
    • Posts: 7,809
    #5

    Re: Grammar with "lest"

    'Helen turned the radio down lest she should miss the phone ringing.'── quoted from http://www.macmillandictionary.com/d...y/british/lest
    May I think that the subjective mood is optional after 'lest'?

    Not a teacher.

  4. MikeNewYork's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 24,983
    #6

    Re: Grammar with "lest"

    Quote Originally Posted by salvador.dal1950 View Post
    Sometimes I found the bare infinitive: He spent whole days in his room, headphones on lest he disturb anyone.

    Sometimes I found the verb conjugated: They were afraid to complain about the noise lest they annoyed the neighbours.
    Some people don't use the subjunctive. Sometimes it is by choice; other times it is an error.

    I would use "annoy" in the second sentence, not "annoyed".

  5. MikeNewYork's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 24,983
    #7

    Re: Grammar with "lest"

    Matthew, the "should" form is often used in BrE to avoid the subjunctive. It is correct.

  6. salvador.dal1950's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Spanish
      • Home Country:
      • Argentina
      • Current Location:
      • Argentina

    • Join Date: Dec 2013
    • Posts: 129
    #8

    Re: Grammar with "lest"

    It seems to my that the use of the subjunctive is rather tricky. How do I know when to use it?

    For instance, I took this sentence from Wikipedia and I never thought I had to use the subjunctive: It is important that he stay by your side.

  7. MikeNewYork's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 24,983
    #9

    Re: Grammar with "lest"

    There are certain words that trigger what is called the "mandative subjunctive". Such words include "demand", "request", "important", "suggest", "order", etc. If you Google "mandative subjunctive", you will see more.

Similar Threads

  1. [Grammar] Uses of "Having been" and "Past Participle" are the same in English grammar?
    By shahjehansoomro in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 14-May-2014, 22:48
  2. Replies: 10
    Last Post: 26-Aug-2012, 18:46
  3. Replies: 5
    Last Post: 20-May-2012, 06:01
  4. Replies: 1
    Last Post: 14-Jan-2012, 16:54
  5. Grammar "related to" versus "relating to"
    By Anonymous in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 21-Jan-2004, 22:14

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •