Difference Wiki

Conditional vs. Subjunctive: What's the Difference?

Edited by Huma Saeed || By Sumera Saeed || Published on December 5, 2023
The conditional mood expresses actions dependent on a condition, while the subjunctive mood expresses wishes, hypotheticals, or uncertainties.

Key Differences

The conditional mood in grammar is used to discuss events that are not guaranteed to happen, being dependent on certain conditions. The subjunctive mood, however, is used to express wishes, suggestions, or situations that are hypothetical or not necessarily true.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 05, 2023
Conditional sentences often use 'if' to introduce a condition, followed by the result that depends on that condition. In contrast, the subjunctive is typically used in clauses following verbs like 'wish', 'suggest', or 'demand', and in 'that' clauses after certain adjectives.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 05, 2023
In English, the conditional is marked by the use of would, could, or should, showing a potential outcome based on a condition. The subjunctive is less obvious, often resembling the past tense or using 'were' instead of 'was', particularly in unreal or hypothetical situations.
Huma Saeed
Dec 05, 2023
Conditionals are crucial in everyday language when discussing possibilities or making predictions. The subjunctive, while less common in casual speech, is important for conveying desires, demands, or unreal situations.
Harlon Moss
Dec 05, 2023
Examples of conditional usage include discussing future possibilities or hypothetical scenarios. Subjunctive examples include expressing wishes or unreal situations, such as in the phrase, "If I were you..."
Janet White
Dec 05, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Primary Use

Discussing possible events or outcomes based on conditions
Expressing wishes, suggestions, or hypotheticals
Sumera Saeed
Dec 05, 2023

Typical Structure

'If' clauses followed by potential results
Clauses following verbs like 'wish', 'suggest', or 'demand'
Sumera Saeed
Dec 05, 2023

Markers

Would, could, should
Use of 'were' instead of 'was', past tense-like forms
Sumera Saeed
Dec 05, 2023

Frequency in Speech

Common in everyday language
Less common, more formal or literary
Janet White
Dec 05, 2023

Example Sentences

"If it rains, we will cancel the trip."
"I suggest that he be told the news."
Janet White
Dec 05, 2023
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Conditional and Subjunctive Definitions

Conditional

Possible Event.
If I go to the store, I will buy milk.
Huma Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Subjunctive

Suggestion or Demand.
I suggest that he be promoted.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Conditional

Future Possibility.
If it snows, the school might close.
Harlon Moss
Nov 20, 2023

Subjunctive

Formal Request.
It is important that he arrive on time.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Conditional

Unlikely Situation.
If I were a millionaire, I would buy a yacht.
Harlon Moss
Nov 20, 2023

Subjunctive

Unreal Condition.
Were I in charge, I would change the policy.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Conditional

Hypothetical Scenario.
She would travel more if she had more time.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Subjunctive

Hypothetical Situation.
If she were here, she would understand.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 20, 2023

Conditional

Advice.
You should see a doctor if you feel worse.
Harlon Moss
Nov 20, 2023

Subjunctive

Of, relating to, or being a mood of a verb used in some languages for contingent or hypothetical action, action viewed subjectively, or grammatically subordinate statements.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 19, 2023

Conditional

Imposing, depending on, or containing a condition.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 19, 2023

Subjunctive

The subjunctive mood.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 19, 2023

Conditional

(Grammar) Stating, containing, or implying a condition.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 19, 2023

Subjunctive

A subjunctive construction. See Usage Note at if.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 19, 2023

Subjunctive

Inflected to indicate that an act or state of being is possible, contingent or hypothetical, and not a fact.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 19, 2023

Subjunctive

Ellipsis of subjunctive mood
Sumera Saeed
Nov 19, 2023

Subjunctive

(countable) A form in the subjunctive mood.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 19, 2023

Subjunctive

Subjoined or added to something before said or written.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 19, 2023

Subjunctive

The subjunctive mood; also, a verb in the subjunctive mood.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 19, 2023

Subjunctive

A mood that represent an act or state (not as a fact but) as contingent or possible
Sumera Saeed
Nov 19, 2023

Subjunctive

Relating to a mood of verbs;
Subjunctive verb endings
Sumera Saeed
Nov 19, 2023

Subjunctive

Wish or Desire.
I wish I were taller.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

FAQs

Can conditionals express advice?

Yes, they're often used for giving advice based on conditions.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 05, 2023

Is the conditional always realistic?

No, it can describe unrealistic or hypothetical situations.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 05, 2023

How is the subjunctive formed?

Often with verbs like 'wish' or 'suggest', and sometimes using 'were' instead of 'was'.
Harlon Moss
Dec 05, 2023

Is the subjunctive common in English?

It's less common and more formal or literary.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 05, 2023

Is the subjunctive mood complex?

It can be subtler and less straightforward than the conditional.
Janet White
Dec 05, 2023

Are conditionals used in everyday speech?

Yes, they're common in daily conversation.
Janet White
Dec 05, 2023

Can the subjunctive be used for demands?

Yes, particularly in formal or polite requests.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 05, 2023

What is the conditional mood used for?

For discussing events that might happen under certain conditions.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 05, 2023

How is the conditional formed?

Often with 'if' plus 'would', 'could', or 'should'.
Huma Saeed
Dec 05, 2023

Is the subjunctive mood emotional?

It can convey strong emotions like wishes or demands.
Harlon Moss
Dec 05, 2023

Does the subjunctive have different forms?

It has a few forms, but they're often similar to past tense.
Harlon Moss
Dec 05, 2023

Are conditionals only for future events?

No, they can discuss present or past hypothetical situations too.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 05, 2023

What does the subjunctive express?

Wishes, demands, suggestions, or hypothetical situations.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 05, 2023

How do conditionals affect meaning?

They introduce a sense of uncertainty or dependency on conditions.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 05, 2023

Are there different types of conditionals?

Yes, including zero, first, second, and third conditionals.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 05, 2023

Is the subjunctive outdated?

Not outdated, but less common in casual modern English.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 05, 2023

Do conditionals always use 'if'?

Mostly, but not always. They can also use 'unless', 'as long as', etc.
Janet White
Dec 05, 2023

Can subjunctive and conditional be used together?

Yes, they can appear in the same sentence but serve different purposes.
Harlon Moss
Dec 05, 2023

Is the subjunctive mood unique to English?

No, many languages have a subjunctive mood, often more prominently.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 05, 2023

Can conditional sentences be negative?

Yes, they can express negative possibilities.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 05, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.
Edited by
Huma Saeed
Huma is a renowned researcher acclaimed for her innovative work in Difference Wiki. Her dedication has led to key breakthroughs, establishing her prominence in academia. Her contributions continually inspire and guide her field.

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