MET workshop: grammar pathway minisession

The subjunctive: are you in the mood?

The subjunctive mood in English, unlike many other languages’ highly inflected forms, tends to be quite discreet, only rarely calling attention to itself. In fact, our subjunctive forms are indistinguishable from a verb’s other forms – it is often only a new phrasal context that reveals the change of mood. Nowadays, mention of the subjunctive seems to be limited to the (ongoing?) debate over “if it were” vs. ”if it was”, but the controversy doesn’t end there. For some, the subjunctive is archaic and pedantic; for others, elegant and nuanced. In this workshop, we’ll have a look at the subjunctive as currently used and see whether it can contribute anything to our own use of English in the many different text types we work with.

About the facilitator: Irwin Temkin has been an EFL/ESL teacher and teacher trainer for over 30 years and relatively recently has branched out into translating and authors’ editing. His interest in grammar came initially through his study of other languages; this, perhaps, has been responsible for his somewhat “relativist” attitude at odds with the “absolutist” dictates of some prescriptive grammarians, professional or otherwise.