Thursday, 19 May 2011

Yesterday's Australian

1) Is it too pedantic to point out that question marks never surround things:

2) If he's still holding the position at the time of writing, shouldn't that be 'has held the position ...' and is there a 'that' missing somewhere in the second column:

3) Isn't the subjunctive used only if you believe the outcome unlikely ('were I to go, I'd meet her' [implication, 'but I'm not going to'):

5) There's something missing from the comments of Jamie Briggs, I think:

6) 'honed', tsk tsk:


  1. Perhaps they're thinking of exclamation points in Spanish, which do surround the sentence. Or maybe the marks just strayed in after the question.

    I have never heard the rule you mention about the English subjunctive, but then I'm an American barbarian. Here, to the extent that it is not simply disused, it serves hypothetical statements of all kinds.

  2. Maybe I just think there is something about 'If the trial were successful, the government would ...' that implies a greater degree of doubt than 'If the trial is successful, the government will ...' I think I'll go and read about the subjunctive now and come back older and possibly wiser.

  3. It looks as if I might be thinking of the counterfactual present conditional, but that this could be seen, possibly, as the future subjunctive, so I take it all back. Although I still think it odd in the context.

  4. '...has held', yes. The subjective is tricky, and without re-reading a whole lot of stuff I'm too unsure to comment. Wow, 'hone in' is so common - as a (misguided) substitution for 'home in' - that it merits a place in Merriam-Webster ( as an example of modern English usage!

  5. As you can see, I never let lack of certainty restrain me - were I to do so, it might be better (note cunning sneaking in of subjunctive).