+0
1. It was agreed six months ago that the house, come what may, be decorated inside and out before the end of June.
2. It was agreed six months ago that the house, come what may, should be decorated inside and out before the end of June.
3. It was agreed six months ago that the house, come what may, would be decorated inside and out before the end of June.
4. It was agreed six months ago that the house, come what may, were to be decorated inside and out before the end of June.
5. It was agreed six months ago that the house, come what may, was to be decorated inside and out before the end of June.
6. It was agreed six months ago that the house, come what may, must be decorated inside and out before the end of June.
7. It was agreed six months ago that the house, come what may, must have been decorated inside and out before the end of June.

Which numbers denote the wrong sentences here?
1 2
Comments  
Hi Inchoateknowledge

I can see that you are delving deeper and deeper into the unfathomable abysses of the English language.Emotion: smile
Nos. 1, 2, 5 and 6 will probably be accepted by all, at least all those who are versed in the differences between British and American English.

No. 3 will be frowned upon by some and No. 4 is wrong and the result of hypercorrectness. No past subjunctive is required here.

No. 7 is plainly wrong.

Cheers
CB
2, 3, 5 and 6 sound the best to me. 1 and 4 sound weird.

7 has a different meaning than 5; 7 implies that it was agreed that someone already decorated the house before the end of June. 2, 3, 5 and 6 imply that someone agreed to decorate the house before the end of June.
Try out our live chat room.
Does English even have a past subjunctive?

It was agreed six months ago that the house, come what may, was to be decorated inside and out before the end of June.

"was" is identical in form to the simple past. So why do some people call it the past subjunctive?
Hello CB and Alienvoord,

Firstly I thank you for your answer.
2 and 5 mean to me that the distinction between tenses does not apply to subjunctives.
So in subjunctive mood either the past tense "was to be" or the present "be" may refer to the same (future) event.
"It is strange but it is true" -- the Queen song's lyrics enter my mind.
The first sentence I copied from my grammar book, the other six I made up.
Alienvoord2, 3, 5 and 6 sound the best to me. 1 and 4 sound weird. 7 has a different meaning than 5; 7 implies that it was agreed that someone already decorated the house before the end of June. 2, 3, 5 and 6 imply that someone agreed to decorate the house before the end of June.
Yes, sorry, of course No. 7 is correct. I assumed (wrongly and subconsciously) that the meaning of the sentences was more or less the same. Although it is grammatically correct, in my opinion this phrase 'come what may' is decidedly odd in that sentence, and that's why I would reject it.

Cheers
CB
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
AlienvoordDoes English even have a past subjunctive? It was agreed six months ago that the house, come what may, was to be decorated inside and out before the end of June. "was" is identical in form to the simple past. So why do some people call it the past subjunctive?
Hi Alienvoord

In traditional grammar, which is the only grammar I am acquainted with to some extent, there are three subjunctives in English.

The present subjunctive: Long live the Queen!
The past subjunctive: If I were rich, I would buy it. (In informal style: If I was rich, I would buy it.)
The past perfect subjunctive: If I had been rich, I would have bought it.

I am sure they are called other names by many grammarians, and to my mind labels are unimportant. There are so few inflections left in English that the indicative, subjunctive and even imperative are often the same in form! That's one of the reasons English grammar is so easy.

Cheers
CB
thanks CB.

The labels may not be important, but if we are to understand the structure of English, it's important to understand that the verb form used in your first example has a quite different distribution from the forms in your second and third examples. Calling them "present subjunctive" and "past subjunctive" implies that one is the past tense form of the other, and that is not true.

After all the "past perfect subjunctive" is the same as the "past perfect indicative", so why distinguish them? It might also make things simpler for learners of English who speak other European languages, since French, for instance, does not use the subjunctive in situations equivalent to your second and third sentences.

Here's an article arguing that "if I were" is not the subjunctive.
http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/001192.html
It was agreed six months ago that the house, come what may,

1. be decorated
2. should be decorated
3. would be decorated
4. were to be decorated XXX!
5. was to be decorated
6. must be decorated ??? (5 and 9 are better.)
7. must have been decorated ???!
8. was to have been decorated (Better than 7)
9. had to be decorated

inside and out before the end of June.

Personally, I would not use the variants with must.

CJ
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
Show more