English Writing - The Subjunctive Mood...


education directory
Ed Share

 Education Resources:
Homepage | Web Search
Education Resources
Art | Film | Dance | Bands
Countries of the World
Digs UK | US | Canada
Finance | Economics/Biz
Homework Helpers | Exams
Kiddies Korner | Tots | Pets
Jobs UK/EU | US | Canada
Bartending Work
Medicine and Health
Museums and Galleries
Mystery Shopping
PE | Sports | Sporting Events
Power & Politics | Civil Rights
Print Media, TV and Radio
Problems and Advice
Shops | Fashion | Books
Subjects | Religion | Language
Technology Education & ICT
Teens | Just for Fun
Schools UK | US | Canada
Unis/Colls UK | US | Canada

 Special Features:
Essays - Full Writing Course
What is Bullying?
Stress in Teaching
Online Education

 Guest Contributors:
The best Dad?
You're an Idiot!
Slave Caster of Freedom
Out of the mouths of babes
The Right to Life?
The Nostradamus Hoaxes
Explaining terrorism to a child
Internet 2 a scam?
Break a Rule, Bad Girl
Britannica near extinction?
The 1st time I really lied
Nigerian Scam Letters
Singular turns plural
English Writing
In debt?
The Secret Shopper
Too busy at work?
Bullying... Our Stories
Start to live your dreams
Recognize your potential
Stop worrying, please!
Public speaking
Elegant resumes
In praise of black sheep
Ritalin - Straight-jacketing?

 Webmasters' Education:
Start here - Why me?
Slow pages equal more traffic

 Finance Partners:
Pension Misselling
Pension Misselling Claim Fund
Missold SIPP
Pension Claims

ed-u.com's full list of pages

The Mystery Shopping Club

(Operated by ed-u.com)

Are you a student over 18? Part-time teacher? Parent? Just someone that needs some extra income? Some free food and drinks perhaps? Would you like to pick your own hours? Some free food and drinks perhaps? Would you like to pick your own hours?

To find out about casual employment opportunities in the "Secret Shopper" industry, please choose one of the following links:

Click here for the Mystery Shopping Club UK

The Transatlantic Education Mega-Site...

BECOME A MYSTERY SHOPPER Are you a student over 18? Part-time teacher? Or maybe a parent or just someone that needs some extra income? Some free food and drinks perhaps? Would you like to pick your own hours? Casual work is available now.

The Mystery Shopping Club provides you with an EXCEPTIONAL collation of intelligence that is crucial for anyone with an interest in Mystery Shopping. Become a Mystery Shopper now!

EXCEPTIONAL EDUCATION ADVERTISING OPPORTUNITY It is simple to get your site listed on ed-u.com! You simply pay a small one-time-only administration charge for a PERMANENT lifetime advert! Learn more about advertising on ed-u.com now!


An outdated grammar rule: the subjunctive. Let's trash it.

By Guest Writer Laraine Anne Barker

How many times as a child was I puzzled when a singular pronoun suddenly turned plural. Why, I wondered, should it be "If I were you?"

Well, it's simply because we're in the subjunctive mood.

"So what on earth," I hear you ask, "is the subjunctive mood? It sounds like a form of deep depression!"

Frankly, that's a good way to describe the effect it has on me. It pulls me right out of the story. Anything that pulls a reader out of a story has to be a bad thing. If it also puzzles a child reader, it's a positive crime.

The subjunctive mood is quite simply a form of the verb when a writer stops dealing with real things about which we can argue ("The King is alive", "Mary is here") and starts dealing with uncertainties such as wishes, commands and unreal circumstances ("Long live the King", "if only Mary were here"). We're so accustomed to "If I were you" that it doesn't sound so odd-- though it baffled me as a child; nobody ever explained why I was suddenly (and impossibly) more than one person.

The subjunctive is an outdated grammar rule that should have died a natural death a long time ago. I'm convinced it's only the extreme pedantry of editors of children's books that has kept it alive. It has no plausible reason for its existence in the 21st century. I found the following (from Margaret Mahy's Underrunners--a book riddled with subjunctives) positively pompous.

  • "As if she were being scribbled out."

  • "As if it were making a grand announcement."

    There's another good reason for killing off the subjunctive mood: too many writers use it incorrectly:

  • "Mary asked if it were his idea."

  • "If she were French, her accent didn't betray her."

    Examples of incorrect use from published books--incorrect because the sentences are not in the subjunctive mood:

  • "But if it were in the hydro it was well hidden." (Since "it" is referred to here in the plural as well as the singular, this sentence is extremely clumsy.) From Plague Ship by Andre Norton

  • "If he were wrong, we might then have an excuse to call this crazy thing off." From A Killing Frost by John Marsden

    Any editor who dares suggests I turn a pronoun (or proper noun) into plural just because I am using the subjunctive mood is in for a hard fight with me.

    Laraine Anne Barker writes fantasy for young people. Visit her web site for free stories and novel excerpts. Sign up for the Novella of the Month Club, absolutely free! L A Barker Enterprises.

    Please visit our next suggested page, Essays.


  • education directory

    An Ed-U-Kate production. This page was produced 28 April 2001 and last edited 9th June 2015.
    ed-u.com, its characters, names & related indicia ©
    Add URL | Link to us | Shop | Safe Shopping Help | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Information | ArtFair | Home