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    #1

    Subjunctive or Indicative?

    Hi Teachers

    While reading the recommendations addressed to the members of this site, on Online Safety, I noticed that the Subjunctive Mood is not used in the following sentence.

    "We ,at UsingEnglish.com., would like to say a couple of things about your personal safety whilst using the internet, email, chat etc. We do not want to scare you, but it is important that everyone here understands the security issues..."

    My question is :
    Why isn`t the Subjunctive used after the phrase "it is important that?"

    As far as I know, the Subjunctive Mood is used to emphasize urgency or importance, which is [isn`t it?] the case in the sentence above.


    Thank you very much in advance.
    Last edited by Teia; 07-Sep-2007 at 21:50.

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    #2

    Re: Subjunctive or Indicative?

    In English, the subjunctive mood exists, but it has far less importance than it does in other languages. I would venture to say that not one in one thousand college-educated English speakers could describe the subjunctive and when it is used. Here's a good explanation from one of my favorite websites: § 61. subjunctive. 1. Grammar. The American Heritage Book of English Usage. 1996


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    #3

    Re: Subjunctive or Indicative?

    Quote Originally Posted by mykwyner View Post
    I would venture to say that not one in one thousand college-educated English speakers could describe the subjunctive and when it is used.
    I agree, Mykwyner. Probably less than that, especially with all the falsehoods that have been spread over the years about this form. Luckily ENLs don't have to consciously know the rules for language because we all know them unconsciously. They are contained within our mental grammars.

    The subjunctive, for English, is a moribund structure. For each subjunctive form, there is at least one other way/structure to state the same thing.

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    #4

    Re: Subjunctive or Indicative?

    Quote Originally Posted by mykwyner View Post
    In English, the subjunctive mood exists, but it has far less importance than it does in other languages. I would venture to say that not one in one thousand college-educated English speakers could describe the subjunctive and when it is used. Here's a good explanation from one of my favorite websites: 61. subjunctive. 1. Grammar. The American Heritage Book of English Usage. 1996
    Hi Mykwyner

    I understand your point of view and I appreciate your answer but , may I ask your opinion on the following sentence ?

    We do not want to scare you, but it is important that everyone here understand the security issues..."

    If I changed the form of the verb -from understands into understand- would it sound unnatural to you? Would it be more or too formal if I used understand instead of understands? I`d like to see [unfortunately, I can`t say hear ] your opinion as an English native speaker.

    Thank you very much.
    Last edited by Teia; 07-Sep-2007 at 22:54.

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    #5

    Re: Subjunctive or Indicative?

    In my opinion, I would not hear (or read) any difference in the subjunctive or indicative moods the way they are used in your example.

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    #6

    Re: Subjunctive or Indicative?

    Quote Originally Posted by mykwyner View Post
    In my opinion, I would not hear (or read) any difference in the subjunctive or indicative moods the way they are used in your example.
    Thank you very much for your quick reply.

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    #7

    Re: Subjunctive or Indicative?

    Notice :

    My questions were strictly related to the problem of grammar , i.e. subjunctive, in the text. I did not mean to make any corrections to the text, nor to correct any of the passages written by the editor or moderators [of this site] whom I greatly appreciate and respect for their work.

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    #8

    Re: Subjunctive or Indicative?

    Quote Originally Posted by teia_petrescu View Post
    My question is :
    Why isn`t the Subjunctive used after the phrase "it is important that?"

    As far as I know, the Subjunctive Mood is used to emphasize urgency or importance, which is [isn`t it?] the case in the sentence above.
    As a footnote:

    In standard BrE, the indicative is common after phrases such as "it is important that", "it is necessary that", etc., as well as after verbs such as "recommend".

    You will also see "should" + infinitive in such cases, e.g.

    1. It is important that everyone should understand the health & safety regulations.

    The present subjunctive does seem to have become more popular in BrE in the last decade or so, however.

    MrP

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    #9

    Re: Subjunctive or Indicative?

    Quote Originally Posted by MrPedantic View Post
    As a footnote:

    In standard BrE, the indicative is common after phrases such as "it is important that", "it is necessary that", etc., as well as after verbs such as "recommend".

    You will also see "should" + infinitive in such cases, e.g.

    1. It is important that everyone should understand the health & safety regulations.

    The present subjunctive does seem to have become more popular in BrE in the last decade or so, however.

    MrP

    Hi MrP



    The present subjunctive does seem to have become more popular in BrE in the last decade or so, however.


    I am sure you are right, especially when I think of the fact that Romanian teachers of Standard English put an accent on the use of Subjunctive in all written exams, starting even with the Baccalaureat exam. In my opinion, Romanian examinators wish that students not only become acquainted with the use of the Subjunctive Mood but also with the differences between this mood and the Indicative.

    Thank you very much for clarifying that. I appreciate both your help and that of the other teachers on this forum.

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    #10

    Re: Subjunctive or Indicative?

    You're welcome!

    I'm at a loss to explain the increased popularity of the present subjunctive, in BrE. Till the 19th century, it was common enough; but by the second half of the 20th century, it survived mostly in set phrases and deliberately subjunctivising writers. Now it has returned, and I notice it even e.g. in the reports of radio journalists. Moreover, the "should + infinitive" alternative seems to have become slightly less common.

    It may be the result of increased daily communication between AmE and BrE speakers (e.g. by email, or online).

    Best wishes,

    MrP

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