#Subjunctive December 16

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I have spent a lot of time the last two weeks listening to a number of podcasts called Ted Radio Hour hosted by Guy Raz.

I came across an episode from 2013 that featured Phuc Tran who happens to be a lot of things. A tattoo artist, a former teacher of Latin, Sanskirt, and Greek, and an author. He is also pretty knowledgeable on grammar.

His talk was related to grammar and the concept that the English language has a grammatical mood called SUBJUNCTIVE. Not all languages have a SUBJUNCTIVE mood including Vietnamese which Phuc Tran family spoke.

I also came to realize that our English language has three moods.

The SUBJUNCTIVE (this shows a wish or doubt), the INDICATIVE (this states a fact or asks a question), and the IMPERATIVE (this expresses a command or request).

Chart on Subjunctive

During one part of the interview Phuc Tran told Guy Raz the following:

” The SUBJUNCTIVE allows us look into the future and to see multiple, highly nuanced possibilities with just a little sprinkling of could’s, would’s or might’s. Similarly, it allows us to look into the past, and to imagine what didn’t happen, but could have happened. The subjunctive is the most powerful mood. It’s like a time-space dream machine that can conjure alternate realities with just the idea of could have or should have. But within this idea of should have is a Pandora’s box of hope and regret. “

Phuc Tran reminded me that when we put ourselves in the SUBJUNCTIVE mood we have a choice. Do we wish for a better outcome in the future or do we doubt ourselves? That mood has the possibility to accomplish both based on our choice.

What we say can change our mood with a simple grammatical tweak to our SUBJUNCTIVE mood.

The indicative mood would be as follows. Everyone is thinking about the future.

The SUBJUNCTIVE mood would be If I were you, I would be optimistic about the future.


  1. […] #Subjunctive December 16 […]

  2. If only everyone were aware of the subjunctive

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