It is the most confusing mood. In Old English there was a fully inflective Subjunctive comparable with Latin or German. It denoted problematic, hypothetical and purely imaginary actions.
In English The Subjunctive has long been in a state of decay as compared with other European languages. The simple Subjunctive (Subjunctive I) is being supplanted (âèò³ñíÿòè) by the forms lest he should die or that he may die. Subjunctive II is being supplanted by was (I wish he was in Hell). The present day syntax allows very few formal distinctions: God bless my wife. I wish he were here.
The difference between the Indicative mood and the Subjunctive mood has practically come to be blotted out (If I was not your friend, I think I'd blame you). Hence, many scholars (O. Jespersen, L. Barchudarov) do not recognize the existence of this Mood. According to O. Jespersen's theory of the imaginative use oftenses, past tenses indicate, in certain syntactic conditions, hypothesis, supposition, problemacity. In the sentence He smiles as if he had never heard about it the underlined form, according to O.Jespersen, is in before past time expressing unreality. In the contaminated clause, embracing the properties of two sub-clauses (a predicative clause and an adverbial clause of unreal comparison) in the complex sentence It is as if he had never been there the underlined form of before past time expresses unreal comparison. According to O. Jespersen, the absence of the Subjunctive is made up for by some stereotyped phrases, grammatical idioms (so be it), Combinations of modal verbs and infinitives and the imaginative use of past tenses (times) which become modally coloured in some patterns ( I wish he had done it).
According to Eric Partridge, the Subjunctive is not an extinct (âèìèðàþ÷èé) mood. It is a living mood to be found in different patterns of simple sentences, in complex sentences (both in the principal and subordinate clauses) (God bless you. If he knew, He would come. (a conditional clause). Even if he had come he would not have understood (a concessive clause). I wish he came (an object clause), etc.The Subjunctive, depending upon syntactical patterns, embraces different forms: might, came, should, had come, were, be. It is a semantic-syntactic- morphological category.
M.Y. Bloch distinguishes 3 Subjunctives: The Stipulative (Subjunctive II: I wish he came), The Spective (Subjunctive I: God bless him), The Consecutive (Subjunctive III: He would have refused).
Most convenient for practical analysis is A. I. Smirnitsky's classification of moods. He proceeds from formal criteria. Each mood is presented by peculiar models on the level of the simple and complex sentences (For example, Subjunctive II on the level of the simple sentence: Oh, that I were a glove upon that hand (W.Shakespeare).Oh, if he were here. Oh, that he were here. If only he were here. Were he only here! ; Subjunctive II on the level of the complex sentence: It is as if he were here. If he were here, he would understand. Even if he were here he would not understand. I wish he came).
The category of mood is hard to represent in terms of binary oppositions. Prof. Zandvoort represents it in the following opposition: he play :: he plays (non-fact :: fact). One integral form of the Indicative is opposed to one integral form of the Subjunctive.
The category of Mood in English is not yet stabilized. It is still in the making.
The Non-Finites (The Verbals)
The Verbals (infinitives, participles I, participles II, gerunds) are non-finite forms of the verb. They have double nature, verbal and nominal. The Infinitive has the properties of the noun and of the verb, Participle I and Participle II have the properties of the verb, of the adjective and of the adverb. The Gerund has the properties of the verb and of the noun. Is is accounted for by the fact that, historically, the Infinitive and the Gerund are connected with the noun, while Participle I and Participle II are connected with the adjective and the adverb. So, the verbals treat actions as substances and qualities.
The Evolution of English Grammars | The Asymmetry of a Linguistic Sign | Transformational and Transformational Generative Grammar | Semantic Syntax | The Oppositional Method | The Distributional method | The Transformational Method | The Method of Deep and Surface Structures | The Componential Method | The Contextual Method |