Jon Aske jaske at ABACUS.BATES.EDU
Sat Apr 5 23:15:51 UTC 1997

It sure sounds like a command to me.  Definitely not a wish :)

It is true that some languages do not allow sentences with BE to be coded as imperatives and must use some kind of desiderative phrase coded with some kind of irrealis/subjunctive verb form (eg Polish, I believe).  But from a functional perspective these things are commands.  What else could they be?  Let us not confuse functional categories (such as 'command') with form-functional ones (such as 'imperative').

To the extent that the addressee can have volitional control over a state, commands with stative verbs are just fine.  Under most circumstances, however, things like "be tall" sound odd, for exactly that reason.

Me thinks.


Jon Aske
jaske at

-----Original Message-----
From:   DGR [SMTP:dgr at]
Sent:   Saturday, April 05, 1997 4:49 PM
To:     Multiple recipients of list FUNKNET
Subject:        Re: Imperative/subjunctive.


I came across the following problem on another list. The poster asked
whether it is possible to order something/ someone to exist as in the
following phrase:

    "Be my love".

In my opinion the form "be" in the above phrase is a subjunctive and
expresses a wish rather than a command and not a command or
imperative. The phrase is not structurally different
from a command like "Be quiet" or "Be seated" What is the
function of "be" in this phrase?


David Gerard.

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