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Is it right that the "Be-conditional" can be used to speak about hypothetic past, present or future?

  • Be it my car I would have sold it.
  • Be it my car I would sell it.
  • Be it my car I will sell it.
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2 Answers 2

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This was a surprisingly interesting question for me to stumble across, so here goes. The simple, straightforward answer is that none of these are correct, though the last one is closest to correct (but not really).

The first two would be better expressed with were replacing be (and also adding a comma between the two parts of the sentence):

  • Were it my car, I would have sold it
  • Were it my car, I would sell it

The last sentence doesn't really work by replacing Be with Were; I don't have a formal explanation as to why this is, though perhaps it's because were is a hypothetical and will is definitive.

The reason that I said that the last sentence was kinda correct is that in older forms of English, there is a form of the present subjunctive that was used: "Do you know if it be raining, or no?" which is similar to the last sentence, reformulated. (If it be my car, I will sell it).

However, that's an archaic, old usage, and you would get very strange looks if you used it nowadays

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There are only a few common contemporary expressions that use the "be-conditional":

Be it ever so humble there's no place like home.

Be that as it may.

Far be it from me to ...

Be it resolved/enacted ... (legislative jargon)

and possibly a few others. Otherwise the grammar is archaic and should not be used.

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