Choose the correct word:
1. If I (was/were) you, I wouldn’t bury that cat until it’s dead.
2 I wish I (was/were) rich.
3 If she (was/were) in town, we didn’t see her.
4 It is essential that she (is/be) on time.
- I move that the project (is/be) terminated.
Answers: 1. were 2. were 3. was 4. be 5. be
The subjunctive mood has almost entirely disappeared in English, but it survives in some constructions.
Here are the conjugations of the verb to be in present and past subjunctive:
I be we be I were we were
you be you be you were you were
he, she, it be he, she, it be he, she, it were they were
The past subjunctive is used in if clauses that are contrary to fact and after verbs expressing wishes, regret, or longing. The present subjunctive is used after requests, commands, and motions.
1.” If I were you” is clearly contrary to fact.
- I wish I were rich (I’m not). The subjunctive is also used in such sentences as “If only she were here.”
- If she was in town, we didn’t see her. The subjunctive is not used here because she might have been in town, so the statement is not necessarily contrary to fact.
- This sentence would probably be better recast as “She must be on time.” But the phrases it is essential, it is crucial, etc. require the present subjunctive.
- All verbs in clauses following motions are in the subjunctive.
The present subjunctive also survives in certain set expressions such as “Long live the Queen!”