+0
Hi,

Which version is correct and why?

1) So it is important that I am viewed as a neutral person.

2) So it is important that I be viewed as a neutral person.

Is it simply that 1 is present and 2 is future?

MountainHiker
1 2
Comments  
Not "present" versus "future", per se. It 's more like, a fact versus a "wish".
Which version is correct and why?

1) So it is important that I am viewed as a neutral person.

2) So it is important that I be viewed as a neutral person.

Is it simply that 1 is present and 2 is future?

JT: Both are correct and the meanings are the same. Number 2 is an example of the subjunctive form. Neither directly points to a future, though that implication could be involved in the context. The speaker, eg. a judge, could also be describing the condition/state that presently exists.

It could be argued that the form is slightly more formal/official but the formality difference between these two is smaller than that between versus .

Many make a big fuss over the subjunctive. There isn't anything "special" per se about it, it's just one style of English structure that we use. The same thing can be expressed by other collocations.

I must be viewed ...

I have to be viewed ...
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
The first is somewhat unnatural sounding to me. At least where I live, it would be unlikely to hear it said. Maybe this, however: "So it is important for everyone to know that I am viewed as a neutral person". As it is, it seems to say: "I am viewed as a neutral person; that is important." It's rather weird for an actuality to be important. "The book is lying on the table; that's important." "It's important that the book is lying on the table." One wants more context for such a statement. As is, it seems lacking in something. My failure to contextualize it does not mean it's ungrammatical, however!

The second sounds fine to me. It's an indirect imperative, if you will. "Make sure that I am viewed as a neutral person; that is important" or, perhaps more accurately, "I must make sure (because it is important to me) that I am viewed as a neutral person" (not really imperative here). In this second version the 'being viewed as neutral' is not an actuality but something envisioned (which is where you are picking up ideas of futurity - it is future in the same sense that imperatives are future, i.e., weakly so).

I would describe the difference as actual vs. envisioned rather than present vs. future, but perhaps I'm putting too fine a point on it.

As has been mentioned, some speakers use the first with the same meaning as I have described for the second - just not in my neighborhood.

Emotion: smile
I find it very interesting that this form of the subjunctive is unnatural for your locale, Jim. If I may ask, are you located in big city CA or rural CA? Somewhere, it escapes me now where, I read that BrE doesn't use this style of subjunctive but it is quite prevalent in the USA.
CalifJim,

Yes, I should have included more context.

In this instance the writer is writing to a friend and they are discussing "sensitive" political topics. Because the writer's vocation involves dealing with international parties, the writer does not want to be on record having taken a position. In this instance, the writer may comment generically about sensitive topics but will not anchor or commit himself to a particular position.

Does that provide more color on my question?

MountainHiker
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
Big city. Don't know anything about the differences in subjunctive use between BrE and AmE. Can't help on that one!

Most common:

It's important for you to be on time.
It's important that you be on time.

Almost non-existent here:

It's important that you are on time.
Hello again, MountainHiker!

Yes, your commentary provides more color. The general differences I described, however, remain the same. In the context you present I'd be inclined to use "be". However, I am not British, and perhaps the "am" is a more British way of saying it.

CJ
Hi CalifJim,

I am your northern neighbor living in Canada, so our dialects ought to be very close, if not the same.

It's interesting because I wrote the sentence with "am" and MS Word came back during the grammar check and suggested "be". I sat there and wondered: so which is correct?

I read your explanation over again, and, to me, it seems subtle.

Thank you for your assistance.

MountainHiker
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
Show more