warningsign Subjunctive forms

In English, the subjunctive is used less and less. It is mainly seen in literature and formal or academic context. The present subjunctive is formed by using the verb in infinitive form after the subject. Should is also commonly used in British English. 1


1. Verbs often followed by the subjunctive include the following: advise, ask, command, demand, desire, insist, propose, recommend, request, suggest, urge.



John suggested (that) she (should) leave early  John sugirió que ella saliera temprano

They demanded (that) we be punctual  Exigieron que llegáramos puntuales

They recommended that the script be rewritten — Recomendaron que se volviera a escribir el guión

Note that after some words, both indicative and subjunctive are possible, with difference in meaning:

  • I insist that he is here —Insisto que está aquí
  • I insist that he be here — Insisto en que esté aquí


It is not uncommon to hear the indicative where the subjunctive would be more "correct".

The doctor suggested he went (he (shouldgo) to hospital for further testing. Irish Independent-Jan 22, 2017

Dalhausser began playing volleyball in high school after a friendsuggested he tried (he (shouldtry) the sport. NBC Olympics-Aug 3, 2016

2. After certain expressions which include: it is best , it is important , it is desirable, it is urgent, it's recommended, the fact that.


It is important (that) he leave early  Es importante que salga temprano

The fact that Obama should say that is no trivial matter.


 3. After some expressions should is more common: it's strange/natural/curious/interesting/surprising. 


It's interesting (that) she should call you so late  Es interesante que te llame tan tarde

It's strange (that) he should ask youfor more money  Es raro que te pida más dinero


4. In spoken English we tend to use the adjective +for+ object+ to infinitive.


It's important for her to leave early  Es importante que salga temprano

It's strange for him to ask for more money  Es raro que pida más dinero


In The Press

It's funny that you should say it's outlandish. I spend quite a bit of time in DC. Every single trip of mine that I go there, young D.C. staffers always ... TIME-Mar 4, 2016

It is interesting that he should be interested in entrepreneurship and creativity. Then again, as an economist it probably comes naturally. The Sun Daily-Oct 3, 2016

He also demanded that they be allowed to participate in the playoffs. New York Post-Feb 15, 2017


Peterborough manager Barry Fry suggested he went to a boxing gym to help get rid of his anger and Woodhouse discovered he liked it more


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