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Are you in a good mood today? Part two. Intermediate English, Lesson 11

  • March 28, 2016
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As you do remember from the previous lesson, there are only three moods in English. Today we are going to discover the last one, but not the easiest one.

Subjunctive mood describes some unreal, imaginary, impossible action or wish.

There is a lot of debate with different linguists about this subject. This is really a very interesting scientific topic; but we are going to study language, and if you want to disagree or argue with some rules that I will give here, you are always welcome to share your comments and ideas. Do not be shy to express your opinion: the science won’t survive without new impact.Subjunctive mood

First, I want to encourage you to learn the Subjunctive mood in English. It is much easier that the Subjunctive in French, and especially Spanish. The only difficult thing here is that the sentences in the Subjunctive mood can be easily confused with the Conditional sentences. 

We have got three variants of Subjunctive (all of them can be used in Present, and Past:

  • Subjunctive similar to Conditional: an action that could have really happened, but haven’t.

a) Present (should/would + infinitive without “to”):

He would call you, but he is busy today.

b) Past (should/would + perfect infinitive):

He would have bought the flowers, but the shop was closed.

  • Subjunctive 1: a necessary or desirable action that can happen.

a) Present ([should]+ infinitive without “to”):

It is urgent that you learn the whole Wikipedia.

It is strange that you should do this today.

b) Past (should/would + perfect infinitive):

It is sad that you should have heard about this so late.

It is good that they would have learnt this before.

  • Subjunctive 2: an impossible or desirable action that can’t really happen.

a) Present (Past Simple of the main verb. The only form of “to be” is “were”):

If only my brother were here! He is in France, you are in the United Kingdom, and he can’t help you right now.

If only I knew where he is. I am looking for him now, but I don’t know where to search.

I wish I knew everything before!

b) Past (Past Perfect):

I wish I hadn’t told them about my projects.

He looked as if he had knocked over a bank.

They felt as if they had become students once again.

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