The Imperfect Subjunctive

What you already know about the present system (i.e., continuous aspect) and the perfect system (i.e., completed aspect) for the indicative mood still applies for the subjunctive mood. The first two principal parts of a verb are needed to form the present system tenses. The last two principal parts are needed for the perfect system.

There are only four tenses in the subjunctive mood: present, imperfect, perfect, and pluperfect. There is no future or future perfect tense.

Of all the verb tenses in the subjunctive mood, the imperfect subjunctive is by far the most common. It is also fairly easy to form and recognize. It consists of the second principal part of a verb plus regular personal endings.

Table 10-1 The Imperfect Subjunctive

There isn't any good, single, predictable way to translate the subjunctive. How to read, understand, or translate it will depend on how it is being used in a sentence.

The most important thing to remember about the imperfect subjunctive is that it always shows an action taking place at the same time or after the time of the main verb.

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