English Subjunctive Mood: Usage & Examples

The Subjunctive in English is the mood of a verb that always comes in the simple/base form. The subjunctive mood of verbs comes after certain verbs that indicate one person's wants, insistence, or desire for another person to do something. These certain verbs are called subjunctive verbs.

Subjunctive Verbs

  • Advise
  • Demand
  • Prefer
  • Require
  • Ask
  • Insist
  • Propose
  • Stipulate
  • Command
  • Urge
  • Recommend
  • Suggest
  • Decree
  • Order
  • Request

Structure of Subjunctive Mood

Sub (1) + Subjunctive Verb (any tense) + that + Sub (2) + Base Form of Verb + Complement

Examples:

  • John has advised that Alex go to the movies.
  • Robert insisted that I work on my paper.
  • The principal demands that we study hard.
  • He suggested that I buy this shirt.
  • She proposed that we get married.

Here, the conjunction 'that' is important with the subjunctive verbs. Without 'that', the structure changes and does NOT follow the subjunctive mood:

Sub + Subjunctive Verbs (any tense) + Object + Infinitive (to + verb) + Complement

Examples:

  • We recommend you to go to the movies. (No 'that', no subjunctive)
  • He advised me to study hard.

However, the subjunctive verbs with the conjunction 'that' always follow the subjunctive mood (first structure).

Subjunctive Adjectives

There are also some adjectives that create a subjunctive mood. These adjectives come after the 'be verbs' along with the conjunction 'that' and create a subjunctive mood for the next verb. These adjectives are called subjunctive adjectives.

  • Advised
  • Necessary
  • Urgent
  • Required
  • Important
  • Obligatory
  • Mandatory
  • Suggested
  • Recommended
  • Imperative

Structure of Subjunctive Adjectives

It + Be Verbs (any tense) + Subjunctive Adjective + that + Sub + Base Form of Verb + Comp

Examples:

  • It was advised that Alex go to the movies.
  • It is imperative that I work on my paper.
  • It was necessary that we study hard.
  • It is urgent that I buy a shirt.
  • It was required that we get married.
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