A verb is used in subjunctive mood when it refers to a condition that is not factual. Subjunctive verbs are usually seen in the clauses. Most of the time, it is seen when the clause starts with ‘if’. However, it is the verb form and it expresses a suggestion, command, etc.
Example:I was in the same place before. (not in the subjunctive mood)
If I were in the same place, I would do something different. (Subjunctive mood)
Some verbs that take subjunctive mood- ask, determine, demand, insist, order, move, pray, recommend, prefer, regret, require, request, wish and suggest.
Some adjectives that attract the subjunctive mood- crucial, important, essential, necessary and imperative.
Here, ‘to be’ is ‘be’ in the present tense subjunctive mood and ‘were’ is used in the past tense for whatever the subject is.
Example: If I was you, I would do better. (Incorrect)
If I were you, I would do better. (Correct) (Here, the verb follows the word ‘if’ and it represents a non- factual condition.)
I wish he was able to run faster. (Incorrect)
I wish he were able to run faster. (Correct) (Here, the second verb is used in a clause and it expresses a wish. The sentence refers to a doubtful condition.)
His demand is that everyone is computer literate. (Incorrect)
His demand is that everyone be computer literate. (Correct)
Some more examples where verbs are used in the subjunctive mood.
I hope it were still useful for you. (Here, ‘was’ becomes ‘were’.)
She recommends that Mira work for full time. (Here, Mira works becomes Mira work)
I wish that he cook the dinner.
Sometimes, the conditional auxiliary verb such as could, would or should are used to represent the same sense.
Subjunctive: I wish he were a good friend of mine.
Conditional: I wish he would be a good friend of mine.
The use of the Subjunctive mood:
• To refer the condition that is contrary to the fact.
Example: If I were President, I would take better decisions.
• To explore hypotheticals.
Example: If I were to cook a dish, it would be delicious.
• To express a demand.
Example: She demanded that a boy work for full time.
• To express a wish.
Example: I wish I were with you in Paris.
• To express a suggestion.
Example: I suggest that he follow a strict routine for study.
• To express necessity.
Example: Is it essential that we be there?
The differences between the Indicative mood and subjunctive mood:
The Indicative mood refers the facts and it also asks questions.
Example: The boys are playing football.
Are the boys playing football?
On the other hand, the subjunctive mood represents a doubt or a wish.
Example: If I were a boy, I would play football.