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Lesson 9: Subjunctive - part 1 | 1 2 3

So far all of the verbsView the definition of this term - this link opens in a new window that we have encountered have been in what is called the indicative moodView the definition of this term - this link opens in a new window. However three moods of a verb exist in Latin.

The indicative mood expresses facts.
The imperative mood expresses commands.
The subjunctive expresses an element of uncertainty, often a wish, desire, doubt or hope.

For example:

I am happy Indicative
Be happy Imperative
I wish I were happy Subjunctive

Whereas other modern languages such as Spanish and Italian have retained this subjunctive mood, it exists in modern English only rarely, primarily in old phrases and mottos.

For example:

Requiescat in pace
May (s)he rest in peace

Floreat Etona
Let Eton flourish

The subjunctive exists in four tensesView the definition of this term - this link opens in a new window: the presentView the definition of this term - this link opens in a new window, imperfectView the definition of this term - this link opens in a new window, perfectView the definition of this term - this link opens in a new window and pluperfectView the definition of this term - this link opens in a new window. It occurs in both the activeView the definition of this term - this link opens in a new window and passiveView the definition of this term - this link opens in a new window voice. In addition to this, the endings of subjunctive verbs can alter across the conjugationsView the definition of this term - this link opens in a new window. It is very important therefore to use the grammar tablesView this term in the Grammar table - this link opens in a new window frequently until you become more familiar with them.

Handy hint

Two common, irregularView the definition of this term - this link opens in a new window verbs in the subjunctive are 'esse,' -to beView this term in the Grammar table - this link opens in a new window and 'posse', -'to be able'View this term in the Grammar table - this link opens in a new window and it is well worth spending some time looking at the forms these take in the grammar table.

Active tenses

In the subjunctive mood, all of the active tenses share the following endings:

Latin English
-m I
-s you (singular)
-t he/she/it
-mus we
-tis you (plural)
-nt they

Present tense

First conjugation

Remove '-are' from the present infinitiveView the definition of this term - this link opens in a new window, add '-e' and then the relevant ending above.

For example:

voco, vocare, vocavi, vocatum (1) to call

+ e + relevant ending
voc + e + m    = vocem – I may call

Second conjugation

Remove '-re' from the present infinitive of the verb to get the stem, add '-a' and then the relevant endings above.

For example:

habeo, habere, habui, habitum (2) to have

stem + a + relevant ending
habe + a + m    = habeam – I may have

Third conjugation

Remove '-ere' from the present infinitive to get the stem, add '-a' and then the relevant endings above.

For example:

solvo, solvere, solvi, solutum (3) to pay

stem + a + relevant ending
solv + a + m    = solvam – I may pay

Fourth conjugation

Remove '-re' from the present infinitive to get the stem, add '-a' and then the relevant endings above.

For example:

scio, sciire, scivi, scitum (4)

stem + a + relevant ending
sci + a + m    = sciam – I may know

Handy hint

In the present tense, the subjunctive can be spotted by the ‘-e’ in the first conjugations, and the ‘-a’ in the second, third and fourth.

Imperfect tense

All conjugations

Add the relevant endings above to the present infinitive form of the verb.

For example:

voco, vocare, vocavi, vocatum (1) to call

present infinitive + relevant ending
vocare + m    = vocarem – I might call

Perfect tense

All conjugations

Remove '-i' from the perfect tenseView the definition of this term - this link opens in a new window of the verb to get the stem '-eri' and then the relevant endings above.

For example:

voco, vocare, vocavi, vocatum (1) to call

stem + eri + relevant ending
vocav + eri+ m    = vocaverim – I may have called

Pluperfect tense

All conjugations

Add '-sse' to the perfect root of the verb (this gives you the perfect infinitive form) and then the relevant endings above.

For example:

voco, vocare, vocavi, vocatum (1)

perfect stem + sse + relevant ending
vocavi + sse + m    = vocavissem – I might have called

Checklist

Are you confident with:

  • The meaning of active subjunctive tenses?
  • The form of active subjunctive tenses?
Go to part 2
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