Verb mood, often (mis-)used in optative statements, such as, "I wish I were on Everything's Best Users" (which is correct grammatically). The misuse shows up the much more common "I wish I was..." that most people seem to use. The best way to remember that this way is wrong is to think of "If I were a rich man", some say.

Used more often in other languages, like Latin and its derivatives.

The common uses of the subjunctive mood are for "Contrary to Fact" statements. The "If there were..." statements mentioned in other writeups are Present Contrary to Fact. They represent a conditional statement which is not true. Another good example of this is, "If I were you..."
Future Contrary to Fact also uses the subjunctive. These imply something that is not going to happen in the future. e.g. "If I were going to go, I would..."
Past Contrary to Fact does not use the subjunctive. Rather, it is expressed using the Past Perfect Indicative. e.g. "If I had gone..."
Optative statements, those of wishing, do in fact use the subjunctive, though many people do not use it correctly. They are an extention of CtF. As in: "I wish I were rich. I could buy my way to Pedant level." The (false) condition is implied through the wish.

Sub*junc"tive (?), a. [L. subjunctivus, fr. subjungere, subjunctum, to subjoin: cf. F. subjonctif. See Subjoin.]

Subjoined or added to something before said or written.

Subjunctive mood Gram., that form of a verb which express the action or state not as a fact, but only as a conception of the mind still contingent and dependent. It is commonly subjoined, or added as subordinate, to some other verb, and in English is often connected with it by if, that, though, lest, unless, except, until, etc., as in the following sentence: "If there were no honey, they [bees] would have no object in visiting the flower." Lubbock. In some languages, as in Latin and Greek, the subjunctive is often independent of any other verb, being used in wishes, commands, exhortations, etc.

 

© Webster 1913.


Sub*junc"tive, n. Gram.

The subjunctive mood; also, a verb in the subjunctive mood.

 

© Webster 1913.

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