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Thursday, November 8, 2007

SUBJUNCTIVE MOOD

Does anyone know how to use the subjunctive anymore? Does anyone even know what the subjunctive IS? Subjunctive: states a condition contrary to fact.

One of the many crazy-making things about listening to sportscasters is the after-the-fact use of the present tense instead of the subjunctive, as in: If Brady passes to Moss instead of giving the ball to Cooley, they score.
NO! NO! If Brady HAD PASSED to Moss instead of giving the ball to Cooley, the Patriots WOULD HAVE scored. (But he didn't, so they're 3rd and long.)

And while we're on the subject, how about may/might? The auxiliary verb "may" follows a rule called the Sequence of Tenses, which states that time relationships must be accurately expressed. So when you have an auxiliary verb, like be, can, have, may, must, ought, shall, or will, it has to agree with the verb it supports. For example:

He can raise financing on his personal property and credit, so the move MAY happen sooner than you think. (The verb is in the present, therefore "may.")

He will be able to raise financing only on his personal property and credit, which MIGHT be a problem. (The verb is in the future, therefore "might.")

LIVIA DRUSA


2 comments:

CHarvey said...

For shame, Livia, did you not read Cicero's 11/27/07 posting? How is it possible for him to raise financing *only* on his personal property *and* credit? Would it not be more correct to say that he will be able to raise financing on his personal property and credit but not from any other sources?

Derrick Neveu said...

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