This is about a misleading text, written 100 years ago, that can be interpreted in various ways. It was written to please everybody.

W. Thompson devised his article in such a way that each reader understand what he or she wanted.

Is the above sentence correct? If not what is the right form of it?

The problem is that W. Thomson just tried to fool his readers. We do not know if they fell in his trap. If I use "understood", it means that his trick succeed and each reader understood what he wanted and all were happy. What is an idiomatic way to express that readers may be fooled in the present even though the article was written a long time ago?

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    Use understood instead of understand there and it will work. – Robusto Mar 7 '17 at 18:11
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    @Fumble - I was thinking that could understand could also work. – J.R. Mar 7 '17 at 18:36
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    I have deleted a number of comments here. Be Nice and if you find someone else is not being nice, flag it for moderator attention instead of handing it back to them with interest. Calling people trolls/accusing them of running sock puppets is not acceptable behavior. – ColleenV parted ways Mar 8 '17 at 12:29
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    @ColleenV - Another appropriate response would be to address the concerns of the critics by editing the question. – J.R. Mar 8 '17 at 16:53
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    @J.R Yes, I included that in my edit comment, and it also merits repeating it here in the comments. Discussion in comments should have improving the question as its main goal. If someone doesn't understand your question, don't assume all of the fault lies with the reader. I think most of the best questions on ELL have been edited at least once. – ColleenV parted ways Mar 8 '17 at 17:08

To convey the subjunctive meaning we can use a periphrastic construction with modal might:

... so that each reader might glean | understand | find | take away ....

  • I will use "might" as you have suggested. – Robert Werner Mar 8 '17 at 11:46

It's fine. The verb "understand" is in the present subjunctive there. It's a little formal that it's even causing native speakers on here to question it. English has modals to replace subjunctive forms like the one you have above, which is either very formal or archaic in how you've written it, but by no means incorrect. I liked it. It sounded Shakespearean. I've said it that way before as well when I have wanted to sound very formal or intelligent!

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