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Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Moody Blues

Like the English rock band The Moody Blues, who early on fused rock with classical, every writer needs  to fuse their modern-day writing in two situations with the more classical subjunctive mood.

For those of you more advanced grammarians, here's a fairly easy explanation of what is meant by mood with regard to verbs. (If the term mood fogs your brain, however, simply skip down to the rule.)  Verbs are said to be in one of three moods: indicative (most of our writing is in this mood which deals with statement of fact), imperative (used to express a request or command), and subjunctive (used in modern English only to express a condition contrary to fact or to express a wish, and usually applies to only one verb form -- were).

Rule:  The subjunctive were is used in contrary-to-fact statements (after if or as though) and in statements expressing a wish.

Contrary to Fact:

If I were you, I'd have those tires checked.  (I am not you.)

If he were to proofread his papers, he would make fewer errors.  (He does not proofread his papers.)

On a bad telephone connection, it sometimes sounds as though the caller were ten thousand miles away.  (The caller is not ten thousand miles away.)


I wish my aunt were here for the holidays.

I wish he were not driving so fast.

I hope this helps some of you who've noticed this strange subjunctive mood occurrence in the writing or speech of others.  Let's face it -- If I was you, I wouldn't want people to notice my writing mistakes,  sounds like something is wrong with the sentence, and is.  That's why I gave you the rule above to explain it.

As the Moody Blues sing, "I wonder if you think about it (this grammar rule), Once upon a time, In your wildest dreams."

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