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Base Subjunctive

Form of base subjunctive

The form of the base subjunctive is extremely simple. For all verbs and all persons, the form is the base of the verb, for example: be, have, do, go, sing, work

The base subjunctive does not use any other forms (goes, sings, works).

This table shows the base subjunctive in all persons, using the verbs be, work and sing as examples:

be work sing
I be work sing
you be work sing
he, she, it be work sing
we be work sing
you be work sing
they be work sing
Note that the subjunctive does not change at all according to person (I, you, he etc).

Use of base subjunctive

In certain that clauses

The base subjunctive is typically used in that clauses after two structures:

1. suggest-verb (or noun) + that

2. advisable/anxious-adjective + that

Look at these sentences which include examples of the above:

main clause
that clause
with subjunctive
He suggests that you   be present at the meeting.
The board recommend that he   join the company.
He requested that the car park not be locked at night.
main clause
that clause
with subjunctive
They made a suggestion that we be early.
He made a proposal that the company buy more land.
The president has issued an order that the secretary resign next month.
main clause
that clause
with subjunctive
It is advisable that she   rest for a week.
It was essential that the army   advance rapidly.
After the landing, it will be vital that every soldier not use a radio.
main clause
that clause
with subjunctive
Tara is anxious that you   return soon.
They are keen that he not be hurt.
We were determined that it   remain secret.

Notice above↑:

Look at some more examples, which include that clauses in negative and continuous form:

The use of the subjunctive as above is more common in American English than in British English, where should structures are often used:
  • It was essential that we should vote the following day.
  • He requested that the car park should not be locked at night.

be after if

We sometimes use subjunctive be after if/whether, though this is rather formal, especially in British English:

If that be (not) the case, I intend to report the matter.
Whether he be   prepared or not,
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved. William Shakespeare

Fixed expressions

Note the following fixed expressions with the subjunctive: