Subjunctive(?): not critical that

Dennis R. Preston preston at MSU.EDU
Wed Mar 19 16:49:04 UTC 2008

Sure could. Didn't meet no ambiguities yet that skeert me very bad.


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>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
>Subject:      Re: Subjunctive(?): not critical that
>At 3/19/2008 08:20 AM, Dennis Preston wrote:
>>For me the subjunctive (whose disappearance I applaud daily, and not
>>only in English) sounds better in the passive:
>>[1] "It's not critical that everything be tied together."
>>And the indicative passive is not so good at least for one of the
>>subtle distinctions that we appear to be trying to make here:
>>[2] "It's not critical that everything is tied together."
>Doesn't [2] potentially have the opposite sense from [1], and
>therefore is at least ambiguous?  [1], being subjunctive, means that
>it is the case that not everything is tied together.  [2] can be
>interpreted as meaning that everything *is* tied together, but that's
>not critical (i.e., some things could be loose and the situation
>could still be acceptable).
>The American Dialect Society -

Dennis R. Preston
University Distinguished Professor
Department of English
15C Morrill Hall
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824
preston at

The American Dialect Society -

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