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I came across the usage of subjunctive the other day. I read that if the main verb is in the present, future or perfect with have, the subjunctive is in the present whereas if the main verb is in the past, the subjunctive is in the imperfect.

Is it possible for the subjunctive to be in the future?

  • Welcome to the site! If you haven't already, I warmly suggest taking a look at our tour. I made some edits to your question, but feel free to edit it further if you want to. And please leave a comment if something needs more clarification. – Joonas Ilmavirta Jul 15 '17 at 12:23
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Tenses of the subjunctive

The subjunctive is also known as conjunctive — these two words are synonymous in Latin grammar. The subjunctive mood has four tenses: present (faciam), imperfect (facerem), perfect (fecerim) and pluperfect (fecissem).

The indicative mood has two more tenses: future and future perfect. While the subjunctive does not have these tenses, there is a replacement, known as periphrastic forms. I suggest taking a look at this older question regarding the future perfect subjunctive.

So, to answer your question, there are no future subjunctive forms in Latin, but there is a decent replacement. In the passive voice you have to use the present tense instead — or the perfect tense to replace future perfect. I don't know if the active periphrastic conjugation is a must in subordinate clauses when possible. (I asked a separate question about this point.)

When to use different tenses

In many subordinate clauses the tense of the subjunctive predicate depends on two things: when does the "subordinate action" take place with respect to the "governing action", and what is the tense of the governing clause.

If the governing clause refers to present or future things, then the predicate of the subordinate clause with subjunctive mood is

  • in present tense if it refers to something simultaneous to the governing clause,
  • in the perfect tense if it refers to something prior to the governing clause, and
  • in the present tense (passive) or periphrastic conjugation (active) if it refers to something later than the governing clause.

Similarly, if the governing clause refers to the past, the tense of the subjunctive is imperfect/pluperfect/imperfect in the order of the above list.

  • Thanks a lot Joonas. This did clarify it and I will indeed look at the site you linked. – Himal Jul 15 '17 at 12:56

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