The Subjunctive

Hello, I was reading the article about the new London Dungeon (Speak Up, March 2014) and I found out an expression which, as you’ve explained, is a rare exemple  of the subjunctive. Could you tell me something about this tense which I didn’t know existed in English? Thank you! Agnese

The subjunctive is not a tense but a “mood”: it’s an alternative to the indicative. It used to be more common in English, but it has largely died out. Also, many British people (who are not taught specific grammar at school, in the way that Italians are) are confused as the form is often very similar to that of the indicative. 
That said, the subjunctive is still used in a number of phrases. Most people’s favourite example comes from Star Wars: “May be the force be with you” (“Che la forza sia con te”). In the present tense the subjunctive (be) is the same as the infinitive. 
It’s also found in the phrase “If I were you” (“Se fossi in te”), although many people now say “If I was you.” (In actual fact the verb “to be” is one of the few verbs where the simple past indicative and subjunctive are different: usually they’re the same).
We hope this helps (N.B. this phrase doesn’t contain the subjunctive).

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