Coming from Spanish I have a lot of doubts about subjunctive in English... mostly because normally I do not see or hear it around me...

My doubt come in expressions like this:

"bla bla bla so that he have to" vs "bla bla bla so that he has to"

To me, the correct one is the first one, as it is a subjunctive (In Spanish, "para que tenga que", no "para que tiene que")... but my problem is that, at least in the US, I do not see expressions like that...

More extreme would be if we use the verb "to be"...

"bla bla bla so that he be somebody" vs "bla bla bla so that he is somebody" (In Spanish, "para que sea alguien").

I have never ever heard "he be" here in the US, but, my Spanish logic tends to tell me that that is the correct way of saying it...

Could somebody put some light in this subjunctive issue for me?


Kind regards,
While many languages have the subjunctive mood, it seems that no two languages use it in the same circumstances or in exactly the same way. If you've studied French, for example, you know that French does not use its subjunctive tense in the same circumstances where Spanish uses its subjunctive tenses. The same is true for English. We don't use the subjunctive in when clauses, for example. French and Italian do not use the subjunctive in the when clauses either, so your French and Italian -- as well as your English -- would seem strange if you tried to translate Cuando llegue ... into those languages using "Spanish logic". I'm not sure, but I think Spanish uses the subjunctive more than almost any other language.

As it turns out, English uses the subjunctive in far fewer cases than Spanish. That's just a fact about English, and it's probably related to the fact that we have so many modal verbs in English which can be used to express some of the same concepts that the subjunctive does in other languages. In any case, we don't use the subjunctive in so ... that ... constructions, so you may as well stop expecting to hear it some day!

I'm afraid you just can't depend on your Spanish logic when speaking English, however much you would like to! Emotion: smile

Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies

Thank you very much for your answer Cj.

I am from Galicia where we normally use the subjunctive even more than regular Spaniards... so you can imagine Emotion: smile

Going back to my example, The Google Test tells me that the Subjunctive form is the correct one:

"so that he has to" 3,430 results.
"so that he have to" 131,000,000 results.

So, when is it ok and when is it not ok to use the Subjunctive? I mean, are there specific rules as the "When" one that you mentioned, or is it case by case? In all the English Grammar books that I had, well, very few actually, they follow the case by case way... sometimes they do not use the third person which makes it impossible to differentiate between both ways.... does anybody know about an English Grammar book that enters with detail and clarity in the Subjunctive?

Thank you very much,

Kind regards,

There's definitely something wrong with those Google numbers. I did the same searches, and in spite of what the numbers on top of the first page say, the true count is not as you have reported it.

If you keep paging through the "so that he have" results, you'll find only a few pages (3 or 4). There were only 28 hits and a very great number of them were written by non-native English speakers. I assure you, they are all mistakes.

The "so that he has" results, however, are found on so many pages that I stopped after 56 pages of results. There are far, far, far more hits with this choice.

Be very careful with grammar research in Google. The counts are not always completely reliable. The number of hits reported can be very misleading, and not everyone who writes on the internet has perfect English grammar. Many are just beginning to learn English. Emotion: smile