Pray that God protect/protects

Hale Chen

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi, all. Here is a sentence for you to read.

We pray that God protect/protects our family.

I was wondering which one in bold parts makes sense. Thank you in advance. :)
 
  • S1m0n

    Senior Member
    English
    Either works now. The first is the subjunctive, which is declining, but faster in the UK than america. The second is a more modern form, commoner but less correct to my traditional eye. "God Save the Queen" has the same structure.
     

    rhitagawr

    Senior Member
    British English
    They both make sense in a way.
    The subjunctive protect means may protect. I prefer may protect.
    Protects refers to what is happening now or will happen in the future. I prefer will protect.

    Cross-posted. Protects doesn't sound quite right to me either.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    I don't like the simple present here and would prefer that subjunctive form 'protect', in this instance. The 'will-future' is possible too - "... pray that God 'will' protect ...".

    Cross-posted.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    The 'will-future' is possible too - "... pray that God 'will' protect ...".
    :thumbsup:

    I'm not a great fan of the subjunctive, although it is undoubtedly correct in the original sentence. However, replacing the present subjunctive with the present indicative seems wrong to me; it needs a modal verb; "should" if you want to sound even more archaic, or "will" in modern English.
     

    S1m0n

    Senior Member
    English
    Do you have any theories why or when the UK came to be so alarmed by the subjunctive? Most North Americans are untroubled, but I've noted that baby boom era brits all think it's an error.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I have a conspiracy theory: The subjunctive took a long time to teach and was difficult to learn and it did not appear frequently in spoken and written English. To save term-time, and increase the pass-rate, there was a focus on more "core" concepts to raise general literacy, and it was dropped.

    A generation then grew up who were only vaguely aware of the subjunctive - and this generation provided the teachers.

    Its demise1 is a loss to the subtle nuances that it contains.

    1 If it is a demise: I have read reports of increased use, but the educational background of those who are using it remains a mystery.
     

    S1m0n

    Senior Member
    English
    You don't need to teach it at all. I didn't even learn the word until I got to university and started studying anglo-saxon, whereupon it was just a new word for something I already knew how to do perfectly. Before then I didn't know why those were the right forms, or the vocabulary to talk about them, but I knew they were right.
     

    S1m0n

    Senior Member
    English
    Perhaps its a conservation of change issue. The US adopted the anti-infinitive splitting rule that's been traced to an advertisement selling insecurity via a made up rule at the same time the UK was abandoning the subjunctive. Maybe languages only do one wacky nonsensical thing at a time.
     
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