subjunctive pls help......

Travis   Tue Jul 19, 2005 1:48 am GMT
The main thing though is that any normal English verb does have a clear distinction between the present indicative and the present subjunctive in the third person singular, simply because the present indicative takes the suffix -"(e)s" in those cases for such verbs, whereas the present subjunctive does not take such. This is why one says things like "You shouldn't do this, lest he do that" rather than *"You shouldn't do this, lest he does that". But yes, I'd say that "to be", and after that "to have", is probably the verb with which the present and past subjunctive are used by far the most in English today, whatever the specific dialect may be.
D   Tue Jul 19, 2005 1:59 am GMT

The fact that you have to search so hard to find inflections for the subjunctive in English gives a strong argument that there is no subjunctive in English in the sense that there is a subjunctive in Latin or French. There are certain constructions that we use in some of the other places that other languages use subjunctive for, but the resemblence ends there.
Travis   Tue Jul 19, 2005 3:14 am GMT
The matter of whether something is a subjunctive mood or not is not a matter of just having clear, well-defined inflections for such in all cases. Also, one must remember that the English present and past subjunctives are not very different at all from its German counterparts, except that there is no inflected past subjunctive outside of the words "to be" and "to have" today, unlike with a larger number of German verbs. However, the way the present subjunctive is marked for normal verbs in English is analogous to how it is marked in German, where it is marked for such verbs only in the third person singular, by using the suffix -"e" rather than -"t", like the German first person singular, and also many German verbs today also have no clear past subjunctive that is separate from their preterites.

Yet, even though the present subjunctive only has special forms for the word "sein", like with "to be" in English, and the past subjunctive is only clearly marked for "sein", "haben", "werden", the modal verbs, various strong verbs, and some other verbs that receive umlaut, I haven't heard anyone suggest that German doesn't have a subjunctive. If anything, English subjunctive forms seem to be very much like what German subjunctive forms would be if you whittled them away to being only clearly defined in the third person singular, for the present subjunctive, and for "sein" and "haben", for the past subjunctive. Just because a subjunctive mood is only clearly inflected in a limited number of cases doesn't make it not a subjunctive mood.
D   Tue Jul 19, 2005 3:36 am GMT

Moods are, by definition, inflectional patterns. There has to be some critical mass of inflection to make a pattern rather than a small list of exceptions.

Occam's razor suggests that there is no past subjunctive mood at all in English, just two commonly used verbs that aren't regular. Two irregular verbs don't give any evidence for the entire mass of regular verbs.

The present subjunctive isn't in a much better situation, since there is no inflection except the third person singular and this ``inflection'' is always the bare infinitive.

If you were to study modern English without knowing any other language, would you really think that the the present subjunctive is an entire inflection pattern _other than the bare infinitive_ unless you were looking for such a pattern to begin with? On what grounds?
Mxsmanic   Tue Jul 19, 2005 5:08 am GMT
Is it really productive to argue about such matters? However rare the differences in inflection, the subjunctive obviously does exist in English and it is used. English learners need to learn where and how it is used. And that's it.
Travis   Tue Jul 19, 2005 7:25 am GMT
As for studying modern English without knowing any other language, I myself think that it is generally best to at least know *some* other Germanic language besides English, just to be able to view English in perspective rather than in isolation (if it is to be a modern Germanic language, I'd say probably German or Icelandic, simply due to them being grammatically conservative, and also (relatively in the case of German, extremely in the case of Icelandic) conservative vocabulary-wise. For example, without a knowledge of German, how would one know that the present subjunctive paradigm in English is not simply limited to it, but rather directly parallels such in the most grammatically conservative West Germanic language, and thus cannot be regarded as simply some anomalous quirk of verb conjugation that just happens to show up in the present subjunctive.
Travis   Tue Jul 19, 2005 10:46 pm GMT
Travis   Wed Nov 14, 2007 6:22 pm GMT
About the issue behind at this point, there is little that is not the history of linguistics. Instead, it is a direct extension of the fine in the middle of the English courts are two major differences between the finger and telling you to decrease the number of physical separation of the position, mainly through a change in the verb is a verb, let us know. It really showed me up, for historical reasons, has decided what actually causes are removed, then tenses.
Travis   Wed Nov 14, 2007 7:38 pm GMT
The last post by "Travis" is not actually by me.