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for the grammar nerds out there
2004-11-22 - 11:03 a.m.

Speaking of The Plural of Mongoose, I have a question which I wish to put to any grammar nerds who might be reading this. (If the word grammar doesn't make your eyes immediately glaze over, then this means you.)
The words "could", "would", and "should", in English, are generally part of sentences in the subjunctive mood. The verb "to be" is generally conjugated as the infinitive when in the subjunctive mood, yeah? So, "It would be nice if you were on time for once", "I could be a little late in arriving" and "He should be ashamed of himself" are all grammatically correct sentences, uh, at least as far as I can tell. Right. Trying to imagine constructions that would allow "should is", "should are", "should am" or any form of "to be" other than the infinitive gives me a headache, so I'm assuming that such constructions are either wrong or extremely rare.
Now, recently someone suggested to me that the word "if" also creates the subjunctive mood. This seems to make logical sense because could, should and would all also refer to cases that are whatchamacallit... you know. They, uh, refer to situations that are not true, not in the sense of being lies, but like, are sort of hypothetical. Whatever should, would, or could happen is something that has not actually happened, yeah? And "if" is kinda the same. As in, it refers to what might be. "May" also creates the subjunctive mood, doesn't it? "You may be right" works but "may is" isn't going to fit anywhere. Ok.
So, anyway, this person said that since the word "if" creates the subjunctive mode then the verb "to be" ought to be conjugated as the infinitive in "if" sentences. THEY MUST BE WRONG and yet I can't find any sources on the internet to contradict them. So, if I am right then this sentence is grammatically correct. But if I be wrong then that one isn't and this one is. See what I mean?
"The wine it tasted good" - Gordon Lightfoot

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