The Subjunctive in English?!?!
Have I ever told you how much I love The Economist?
I love The Economist so much!
When I first saw it on the newsstand, I figured it was a boring magazine about economics.
But, it’s way more than that!
It talks about current affairs, international business, politics, technology, and culture.
It’s a great way to keep up with what’s going on in the world (not just the one or two storylines most news sources focus on).
The Economist has helped me start so many great conversations as I’ve traveled through Spanish-speaking countries. So, even though it’s in ENGLISH, The Economist has helped me tons with my SPANISH!
I’ll tell you more about The Economist in the future. Right now, I want to talk about a specific article I just came across.
Every two weeks in the Culture section, they have an article called Johnson, which talks about something language-related (so, Johnson is my favorite article in my favorite magazine).
And, recently… Johnson talked about “the subjunctive”… in ENGLISH!
https://www.economist.com/culture/2022/06/16/far-be-it-from-the-english-to-use-the-subjunctive (if you register, you can read the article for free).
Have you heard of the subjunctive? If not, just know, it’s the bane of every Spanish student’s existence (if you continue with Spanish, you’ll inevitably run into the subjunctive).
Regardless, did you know we have the subjunctive in ENGLISH too?!?!
For the longest time, I didn’t! But, we do! We have the subjunctive in English!
When we say, “God SAVE the queen” or “God BLESS America” – that’s the present subjunctive (instead of “God SAVES the queen” or “God BLESSES America”).
Those phrases might look like the imperative (commands) but they’re not. As The Economist points out, “the faithful do not order the creator of the universe around”.
“God save the queen” is basically saying, “MAY God save the queen” (it’s a desire, not a command) And, “God bless America” is basically saying, “MAY God bless America” (desire, not command).
When we say, “If I were you…” instead of “If I was you…” – that’s the past subjunctive!
I’m not going to get into all the technical grammatical mumbo jumbo here. The main point now is… we have the subjunctive in English too (though, it’s not nearly as common as it is in Spanish).
Nothing earth-shattering here, just something I found interesting–and thought you might too.
P.S. Keep an eye out for a video dedicated to the subjunctive [in Spanish] before the end of the year.