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"If the truth be told, he was a tad unwise to make a public statement without clearing it with his Head of Department first..."

(In conditionals it is common and usual to use subjunctive. => "If he were younger, he would ask her out.")

So it has struck me that it could be present subjunctive used in passive voice (I am talking about the sentence in the very beginning). Would anybody be willing to explain what it actually is?

Thank you in advance.
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The following forms appear in the American Corpus:

if the truth be told - 37 instances
if truth be told - 41 instances
truth be told - about 300 instances (no if)

If the truth be told, I don't see a problem with using any of these.

It is present subjunctive, passive voice.- be + past participle. Here are some other examples:

I move that the meeting be adjourned.
It is important that this disease be eradicated before it spreads.
The congress recommended that the witness be censured for lying under oath.
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Comments  
I think the expression is "truth be told", not the bastardized "if the truth be told". The irrealis is inherent in the old verb form; "if" is redundant with it. It is not passive, it is the way the subjunctive was used.
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Be that as it may, Rowling has used it in a conversation between two guys in the book Harry Potter, so, therefore it may be an informal style. I happen to have found a list of subjunctive set phrases, and there is also mentioned the one, we are talking about right now. ---> "truth be told".

The old style, to which I am becoming steadily accustomed, was very frequently used in the trilogy the Lord of the Rings, so I don't wonder at such expressions and constructions of verb forms.

Thank you for your reply Emotion: wink
 AlpheccaStars's reply was promoted to an answer.
AlpheccaStars, you've answered all my questions and dispeled my doubts about the construction being present subjunctive in passive voice. Your results from the American Corpus say it all about the frequency of uses of those phrases, what also goes along with enoon's suggestions.
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An instance of a locution in dialogue in fiction is not an instance of an author lending it weight. You make your characters say whatever your readers expect them to say, and sometimes you even make them misspeak. The American Corpus is predominately journalism, not well known for careful editing and high level of language. Even so, if a form has 300 hits as compared to its variations which have some 40, the 40 are probably mistakes made by people who don't even know what idiom is. Fossilized expressions have one fixed form, and any variation on that is an error, in this case an error that stems from the mindless application of a passive construction to a misunderstood subjunctive. My two cents.
"Truth be told" I had not realized that "if the truth be told" was a bastardization. I'm afraid the current is against the idea of keeping the original form. Kind of like how "it begs the question" is just about never used the way it's supposed to be.
Grammar Geek"Truth be told" I had not realized that "if the truth be told" was a bastardization. I'm afraid the current is against the idea of keeping the original form. Kind of like how "it begs the question" is just about never used the way it's supposed to be.
I wouldn't classify it as a "bastardization" either.
Language changes all the time, and English has undergone many many changes over the past centuries.
Meanings change, grammar changes, and grammarians get reluctantly dragged along with the current.

I do cringe a bit when I hear "It begs the question" misused from its original meaning of a logical fallacy. But I just deal with it. Almost nobody uses it "correctly" anymore.
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AlpheccaStarsAlmost nobody uses it "correctly" anymore.
It often confuses me, so just to be sure I have it right --

The "correct" use: begs the question = assumes what is to be proved
The "incorrect" use: begs the question = raises the question

Is that right?

CJ
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