Hello All,

I would be most grateful if anyone could clarify a point of confusion regarding the two sentences below. I have exhausted the print and electronic resources available to me without finding a fully satisfactory answer.

Sentence One: "I thought that you were my friend."

The reality is, however, that you were not. Is this a true example of the subjunctive or is it just the past tense in a construction that bears a superficial resemblance to the subjunctive?

Sentence Two: "I thought that Thanksgiving was on the 24th this year."

Thanksgiving was, in fact, on the 23rd. In a similar manner, since the sentence expresses a condition contrary to reality, would it not require the subjunctive as well? But "was" would appear to be necessary in the subordinate clause and I have never seen any grammar that cites it as a subjunctive form of "to be". So once again, is this really just an example of the past tense?

Thank you so much, in advance, for any assistance that you might be able to supply.


Hello, both of you!
I think Christophe's sentences are related to reported speech in the past, not to subjonctive.
Direct speech: "But you are my friend!" (more or less!)
Rep speech: "I thought that you were my friend"
On the other hand, this would be a subjunctive:
"He always behaved as if he were my friend"
The sentences introduced by "I thought that" are the same as those introduced by "he said that", "he answered that" etc...
In English, uses of past subjunctive mood are restricted only to some special sub-clauses: , , <(wish)-clause>, <(I would rather)-clause>, <(It's time)-clause>. You don't need to use the subjunctive mood in <(think) that-clause> even in the case the event stated in the clause is unreal. "I thought he was my friend, but I was wrong."

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'were' appears because of 'you'. if there were 'he' is would be 'was'. However teachers will help you much more.
But why do you think (1) is subjunctive?
 pieanne's reply was promoted to an answer.
I thought that it was in the subjunctive because it contained a notion in the subordinate clause that was either false or at the very least subject to doubt. There were two things that led me to believe this. The first was numerous references similar to the following passage:

"Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary defines subjunctive as “in grammar, designating or of that mood of a verb used to express condition, hypothesis, contingency, possibility, etc., rather than to state an actual fact: distinguished from imperative, indicative.”
Quoted in: "The Subjunctive Mood in English – a Guide to Usage" http://www.ceafinney.com/subjunctive/guide.html

The second was some experience with French which require the use of the subjunctive after certain verbs that express an inherent subjectivity and others when they are used in the negative (e.g. "Je ne pense pas qu'il aie été fidèle" which translates to "I don't think that he was loyal.") The verb in subordinate clause in the French is in the past subjunctive "aie été" but it is translated simply as "was" in English. I think that maybe this was where the confusion entered in for me.

Thanks to all for your help!

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If you transalte your example in French,there's subjunctive either:
"je croyais que tu étais mon ami"
Emotion: smile
 paco2004's reply was promoted to an answer.
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http://data.grammarbook.com/blog/verbs/if-i-would-have-vs-if-i-had /

Note that your link is not relevant to the thread. Besides, the last activity on the thread was in 2005. It is generally not useful to add posts to such ancient threads.