The present subjunctive
The present subjunctive is used to talk about importance, recommendations or wishes. The infinitive without to is used. For example
The present subjunctive is used in a that-clause that is placed after the main clause of a sentence.
The CFO insists that the credit controller attend the meeting this afternoon. (importance)
Because of your son’s outstanding record, I recommend that he apply to the top universities. (recommendation)
I ask that you be polite to the dinner guests this evening. (wish)
It is essential that you not discuss our product launch with competitors. (the negative form)
The past subjunctive: the unreal past
The unreal past is also known as the past subjunctive. The unreal past is the use of a past tense to talk about an unreal or unlikely situation in the present. These statements usually contradict the real situation in the present. The results of these situations are usually imaginary.
- If I knew the answer to this question, I would tell you. (I don’t know the answer.)
- Imagine you lived in a perfect world, what would your life be like? (I don't live in a perfect world.)
The past perfect subjunctive
The past perfect subjunctive is used to talk about an unreal situation in the past. These statements usually contradict what happened or didn't happen in the past. The results of these situations are usually imaginary.
- If I hadn't eaten too much last night, I wouldn't have felt sick.
- If only I had left home earlier. I wouldn't have been late for the interview.
The imperative mood
The imperative is used to tell people to do something. The infinitive without to is used in the affirmative form.
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