If he tell the truth

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Senior Member
British UK
A friend asked me why would a well-spoken English person say the following:-
If he tell the truth.

I said that it must be a mis-print, and my friend asked me if it could be some form of subjunctive. I said no, that I was sure it was a mis-print, am I right in saying this? I don't think there is any way that this can be correct, but please let me know if you can think of any circumstances in which it would be correct to say that. My friend read it in a book. (I don't know which).
  • GEmatt

    Senior Member
    English/BE, Français/CH, Deutsch/CH (rustier & rustier)
    I'm no grammar expert, sally, but I would have put this down to a somewhat archaic use of the subjunctive (rather than a misprint), along the same lines as if the truth be told, etc.


    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    This particular form of the subjunctive is so unusual that I am sure most people would assume the well-spoken English person had made a mistake.
    No one is infallible.


    Senior Member
    USA, English
    The phrase has "were to" understood and it sounds fine if you imagine the "were to".

    If he [were to] tell the truth.
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