Subjunctive

The following is a mini-tutorial on the use of the Subjunctive. After you have studied the tutorial, complete the associated exercises. If you already know how to use this verb form, you can skip the explanation and go directly to the exercises.

FORM

Use the simple form of the verb. The simple form is the infinitive without the "to." The simple form of the verb "to go" is "go." The Subjunctive is only noticeable in certain forms and tenses.

USE

The Subjunctive is used to emphasize urgency or importance. It is used after certain expressions (see below).

Examples:

  • I suggest that he study.
  • Is it essential that we be there?
  • Don recommended that you join the committee.

NOTICE

The Subjunctive is only noticeable in certain forms and tenses. In the examples below, the Subjunctive is not noticeable in the you-form of the verb, but it is noticeable in the he-form of the verb.

Examples:

  • You try to study often. you-form of "try"
  • It is important that you try to study often. Subjunctive form of "try" looks the same.
  • He tries to study often. he-form of "try"
  • It is important that he try to study often. Subjunctive form of "try" is noticeable here.

Verbs Followed by the Subjunctive

The Subjunctive is used after the following verbs:

to advise (that)
to ask (that)
to command (that)
to demand (that)
to desire (that)
to insist (that)
to propose (that)
to recommend (that)
to request (that)
to suggest (that)
to urge (that)

Examples:

  • Dr. Smith asked that Mark submit his research paper before the end of the month.
  • Donna requested Frank come to the party.
  • The teacher insists that her students be on time.

Expressions Followed by the Subjunctive

The Subjunctive is used after the following expressions:

It is best (that)
It is crucial (that)
It is desirable (that)
It is essential (that)
It is imperative (that)
It is important (that)
It is recommended (that)
It is urgent (that)
It is vital (that)
It is a good idea (that)
It is a bad idea (that)

Examples:

  • It is crucial that you be there before Tom arrives.
  • It is important she attend the meeting.
  • It is recommended that he take a gallon of water with him if he wants to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

Negative, Continuous and Passive Forms of Subjunctive

The Subjunctive can be used in negative, continuous and passive forms.

Negative Examples:

  • The boss insisted that Sam not be at the meeting.
  • The company asked that employees not accept personal phone calls during business hours.
  • I suggest that you not take the job without renegotiating the salary.

Passive Examples:

  • Jake recommended that Susan be hired immediately.
  • Christine demanded that I be allowed to take part in the negotiations.
  • We suggested that you be admitted to the organization.

Continuous Examples:

  • It is important that you be standing there when he gets off the plane.
  • It is crucial that a car be waiting for the boss when the meeting is over.
  • I propose that we all be waiting in Tim's apartment when he gets home.

Should as Subjunctive

After many of the above expressions, the word "should" is sometimes used to express the idea of subjunctiveness. This form is used more frequently in British English and is most common after the verbs "suggest," "recommend" and "insist."

Examples:

  • The doctor recommended that she should see a specialist about the problem.
  • Professor William suggested that Wilma should study harder for the final exam.

EXERCISES AND RELATED TOPICS:

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