|Question: One writer e-mails the following question:
"What is the proper conjugation of the subjunctive tense of 'Fart'? Please answer this, as I am unable to sleep over it."
(signed) Phonetically Phlatulant Phellow
An impressive use of alliteration (the matching of the sounds of word beginnings (the "f" sounds in his name signature)). And, a fun question! I hope the answer doesn't -- well -- stink!
Back to Guru
|Answer: It's important to note that the "subjunctive" is not
a verb tense: it is a verb "mood." Hence, we call it
the "subjunctive mood". (Another more well-known verb "mood" is the
imperative mood. This mood is used to create a feeling of directness:
"Look at this mess!") The subjunctive mood ironically is used in
more FORMAL settings -- in particular diplomatic statements. (So,
my friend, if you are planning on presenting a bill on "farting" (a clean
air act?!) THIS is your mood!) Probably the most important rule to
remember is the following:
(1) The subjunctive form of "be" in the present tense is always "be", and the past tense is always "were", regardless of the subject.
Example: "If she be farting...than I am a liar."
Note the formal sound, and the questionable nature of the statement. The subjunctive form is a polite way of casting doubt on a situation.
So, my Phlatulant Phriend, there is more to know about this mood, but I think you GASP, I mean, GRASP the situation.
Sources: Houghton Miflin, English, Grade 12.