Business 2 Chapter 4 - Distinguishing subjunctives

Business Strategies - Unit 4 -
Distinguishing subjunctives

Not all the questions require subjunctives.
It is up to you to decide which do - and sometimes which subjunctive.


The subjunctive in formal or official English

The present subjunctive is the same as the infinitive, for every person. It is noticeable particularly in the third person:
Not only "should I go" but also "should he go"
and the verb "to be" where the subjunctive is:
"I be" "you be" "he be" etc.

When "should" replaces "if" a subjunctive is used.

IF the committee OBJECTS I'll resign.
SHOULD the committee OBJECT I shall resign.

This carrries over into the present perfect as in this example:

IF the play HAS started when we arrive, we will wait until the end of the first act before going to our seats.
SHOULD the play HAVE started when we arrive, we will wait until the end of the first act before going to our seats.

Here are the most common verbs and adjectives which take the subjunctive: insist, demand, important, advisable, suggest, propose, necessary, preferable, request, recommend.

Present subjunctive:

Employees must be on time for work. - It's necessary that they BE on time.
Mary LEAVES early. - Her boss insists that she LEAVE early.
Mary IS happy. - It's important that Mary BE happy.
Joe doesn't know. - It is preferable that Joe NOT KNOW.

Note does the form does not change with the tense of the

I suggest that Thomas BE hired.
I suggested that Thomas BE hired.
I would have suggested that Thomas BE hired.

And here's the negative:

Jim recommended that we NOT TRAVEL there due to political unrest.
The postal service suggests that you NOT SEND cash in the mail.
It's important that Sally NOT GET the wrong idea.

This subjunctive is used more frequently in American English. In British
English, SHOULD is often added. It doesn't change the meaning:
"He insists that she BE there by noon."
"He insists that she SHOULD BE there by noon."

Past Subjunctive

It usually looks like the simple past tense, except with the verb TO BE.
Then it is always WERE in all persons. The past subjunctive is used after
these expressions when the statement is in doubt or untrue:

wish - as if - as though - if (conditional sentences)

Notice the difference:

You act as if you didn't care. (I'm not so sure that you do.)
You act as if you don't care. (But I know you do, deep inside.)