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Grammar-philes, help with indicative vs subjunctive?

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DD is working through GFWTM Purple Book, Review 10-I (pages 525-526). The topic is conditional statements. In many of the conditionals, she marked a verb as subjunctive, when the answer key marked it as indicative. However, the verb comes in the context of an “if” statement, so we both thought these should be subjunctive. For example:

If pork is to be kept all summer, twice boiling the brine may be necessary.

In the first clause, “if” is marked as simple present, state of being, indicative in the answer key. DD marked it as simple present, SOB, subjunctive because the clause as a whole represents an “unreal, wished for, or uncertain” (the definition of subjunctive, from the GFWTM reference book) situation.


Another example: 

If arbors or rests are needed, let them be placed at the points where they are obviously required.

In the first clause, DD marked “are needed” as simple present, passive, subjunctive. The answer key says it is simple present, passive, indicative. We are again confused because the “if” in the clause implies that the situation is unreal, wished for, or uncertain.

Any insight appreciated!

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When I think about the subjunctive, I think about a certain kind of Yiddish-inflected English. Phrases like "I should be so lucky" seem to me like a direct translation of subjunctive. It's not just that the situation is unreal, wished for, or uncertain - it's that it's downright unlikely, or even impossible. 

In your example, keeping pork all summer isn't unlikely - it's just something that you need to plan for. Therefore not subjunctive in mood. 


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We don't use the subjunctive much in English at all--almost always the indicative. One way to see the subjunctive is in sentences starting, "If I were..." for impossibilities. "If I were the Queen of England, I'd have my shoes made to order." "If I were Steve, I'd redo the whole project." "If I were to go back in time and start over, I would...."

Normally, we say, "I was." Changing to were is subjunctive.

Edited by Carolina Wren
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Not every "if" statement is subjunctive.

These sentences are in the indicative case:

If I go to the store, I will buy strawberries.

If I get an A in my class, my dad will give me $100.


To put these sentences into the subjunctive case:

If I were to go to the store, I would buy strawberries.

If I were to get an A in my class, my dad would give me $100.


Also, every time I hear the phrase "If I were..." I end up singing songs from Fiddler on the Roof...



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