Why subjunctive?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Aug 12 14:43:45 UTC 2010

At 1:25 PM +0000 8/12/10, ronbutters at aol.com wrote:
>Why not?

Well, the prescriptive rule, such as it is, is that subjunctive would
be used in this context just in case the speaker/writer was
presupposing a counterfactual situation in the antecedent, in this
case that there is never a place in need of more comedy and less
comity, and that's clearly not presupposed. Presumably the author
believes that there are many such places, of which the Senate is the
foremost.  But just between you and I, the spread of subjunctive to
non-counterfactual if-clauses is another stalking horse of
hypercorrection that's long since left the barn.


>------Original Message------
>From: Bill Palmer
>Sender: ADS-L
>To: ADS-L
>ReplyTo: ADS-L
>Subject: [ADS-L] Why subjunctive?
>Sent: Aug 12, 2010 5:45 AM
>The opening sentence of an opinion piece
>in today's NYT:
>If ever there were a place in need of more comedy, and less comity,
>it's the U.S. Senate.
>Bill Palmer
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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