Date: Wed, 11 Oct 1995 09:44:51 EDT


Subject: Re: as it were

Kathleen Sheridan writes,

The subjunctive is still surviving in the US, but in the UK it is almost

dead. Many of the people I work with are native UK-speakers and some of the

things they come up with are jarring to my ear, to say the least.

For "John suggested that Jim _go_ to the show" you find the following


The most innocuous is "John suggested that Jim _should go_ to the show."

The one that drives me wild is "John suggested that Jim _went_ to the show."

But this one, depending on the context, may have been intended as an

indicative: "I suggest that the glove was planted". Are you sure this was

really meant as a subjunctive? If so, weird indeed. Do you hear folks

across the pond saying "If I am you" rather than "If I were/was you" too?

That one strikes me as even less likely. I think the use of 'should' in con-

texts like the one you cite has been around for ages, on the other hand; indeed

some linguists have suggested deriving "John suggested that Jim go" from a

structure containing 'should' in the subordinate clause, so that THIS "sub-

junctive" (but obviously not the "If I were you" one) would contain a 0 modal.

Clearly, "subjunctive" is a term performing different jobs for us.