Subjunctive? No, I wouldn't think so.

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jamesjiao

Senior Member
New Zealand English and Mandarin Chinese
The would makes the sentence subjunctive.

Our company never breaks the law.

Without it, the sentence becomes present tense. Therefore, the would will need to be conjugated.
You can't form a subjunctive without a leading verb that introduces the subjunctive mood (such as - ask, order, command and etc) and a complementizer (that).
 
  • Lexiphile

    Senior Member
    England English
    You can't form a subjunctive without a leading verb that introduces the subjunctive mood (such as - ask, order, command and etc) and a complementizer (that).
    Why ever not?

    Is he coming today?
    No, I don't think so.
    No, I wouldn't think so.

    The mood in the last sentence is clearly subjunctive.

    I think the problem here is that the subjunctive, as an identifiable conjugation, has fallen into such disuse in English, that we don't recognise it any more. If you translate these sentences into a language that has a more clearly defined subjunctive, you see it.
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    Why ever not?

    Is he coming today?
    No, I don't think so.
    No, I wouldn't think so.

    The mood in the last sentence is clearly subjunctive.

    I think the problem here is that the subjunctive, as an identifiable conjugation, has fallen into such disuse in English, that we don't recognise it any more. If you translate these sentences into a language that has a more clearly defined subjunctive, you see it.
    The Oxford Companion to the English Language, edited by Tom McArthur and published by Oxford University Press, disagrees with you. The article "SUBJUNCTIVE" lists three uses for the subjunctive:

    The third one, "formulaic," is not involved in the present discussion because it has to do only with frozen forms. As you use "would," it is still productive (it's a quite ordinary verbal auxiliary, in fact).

    The second use is "conditional and consessive," as in "If music be the food of love, play on." The author says quite plainly that alternatives to the subjunctive are the indicative "If music is the food of love, play on," or a "should"-phrase, "If music should be the food of love, play on." That is, even though the latter two sentences perform the exact same function as the sentence with the subjunctive, they are not themselves subjunctive.

    The first use is the "mandative," as in "I insist that she disband the team." Here again, the author shows the indicative or "should"-phrase as alternatives (that is, not subjunctive themselves), although, as has been mentioned in other threads, the indicative, such as in "I insist that she disbands the team" would be a shibboleth marking the speaker as speaking some other variety of English than American English, since in all registers of AE the indicative is not used in such cases.

    None of these cases allows "No, I wouldn't think so." to be considered subjunctive.
     

    Lexiphile

    Senior Member
    England English
    I shall write to Tom McArthur immediately and tear him off a strip.

    That my usage is "a quite ordinary verbal auxiliary" is indisputable. In fact, I would say, dear old Tommy nothwithstanding, "a quite ordinary subjunctive verbal auxiliary."

    It's lonely here at the top, you know. :)
     
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