Dear teachers,

A/ Would you please tell me which modal should be chosen in the following sentences?

1) I arrived early so that I should / would / could / might get a good view of the procession.

2) I arrived early so that I should / would / might not miss anything.

What would be the difference in meaning between them all?

B/ Is "were" a subjunctive here?

3) He arranged the timetable so that the afternoons were free.

Many thanks,

'Should' for the first person singular I find a bit stilted and conservative nowadays, but I can find no substantial difference in the choices, all of which are correct, in (1) and (2), and all meaning that 'I arrived early in order to get a good view and not miss anything'.

(3) is not subjunctive. 'He arranged the timetable in a manner that left the afternoons free'.

'A verb is in the subjunctive mood when it expresses a condition which is doubtful or not factual. It is most often found in a clause beginning with the word 'if'. It is also found in clauses following a verb that expresses a doubt, a wish, regret, request, demand, or proposal. These are verbs typically followed by clauses that take the subjunctive:

ask, demand, determine, insist, move, order, pray, prefer, recommend, regret, request, require, suggest, and wish.'
As Mr. Micawber says, the choice is not one of correctness, as all seem possible. From the viewpoint of what is most idiomatic, however, I would choose "could" for 1) and "would" for 2), given the choices you present.

In the case of B, one way to answer the question is to substitute a third person singular. In your example this is very easy to do; just change "afternoons" to "afternoon", and find out if the verb is correctly "was" or "were".

As it turns out, we say:

He arranged the timetable so that the afternoon was free. (We would have said "were free" even in the singular if this were a construction that required the subjunctive.)

So this is not a case of the subjunctive.

Emotion: geeked
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Thank you all very much!

It's true that in my sentence "were" is not a subjunctive but in formal English we may use the subjunctive in concessive clauses. After : "if, for fear that, so that..." but in that case we would not use "was, were, would be" or "could be" but rather "should be" or "be", isn't that so?

Best regards,
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"if he be" is archaic. So are "lest he be", "so that he be", and the others you cite.
"if he should be" is not much used, but possible.
"for fear that he should be" and "so that he should be" are very old-fashioned and do not sound like normal English. You won't find anyone who speaks or writes that way anymore, except in parody.