How do I correctly determine realis vs irrealis or indicative vs subjunctive in this sentence?

I stared at him to see if he were just a cartoon character. or I stared at him to see if he was just a cartoon character. The intended meaning of the two sentences above are that due to him (his behavior) that the writer is (I am) staring at, that is, in the writer’s … Read more

Is there a well-known secular sentence that uses all three of the imperative, indicative, and subjunctive moods?

The following English sentence, a 19ᵗʰtranslation from a medieval Latin hymn from the 12ᵗʰ or 13ᵗʰ century, is well known, at least among Christians: O come O come Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here Until the Son of God appear. It uses the imperative mood (come, come, ransom), the indicative … Read more

Subjunctive vs. indicative with conditionals

I was reading this topic from March 2014 and thought Charles’s answer was great until I got to the following part: The letter claimed exactly the same as the first, namely that if his letter wasn’t published, he would be angry. Now, by the rules I have laid out you would expect that wasn’t, the … Read more

“specify” or “specifies”?

I have seen both “(Something) requires that one specify how..” and “(Something) requires that one specifies how..” used in various contexts. Which is grammatically correct? My sense is that the former is correct because the verb “specify” should be conjugated in present subjunctive within a declarative content clause. Answer Your sense is correct, but as … Read more

Validity of `[subject] let [verb] [object]`

I’m writing my statement of purpose for grad school, but used a sentence that I’m not sure is grammatical. I inevitably decided on electrical engineering, but never let die my love of language. I’m a bit confused as to the validity of mechanics of [subject] let [verb] [object] Is this OK? Answer It is grammatical, … Read more

Indicative without a subject

I’m aware that imperative and interrogative constructions can take no subject as it’s usually implied (“Look this way!!”, or “Why look that way?”), but what about an indicative sentence like this one: Running through the hallways frantically shoving food down my throat wondering if anyone nearby notices, stopping for a moment to say hello to … Read more