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The air grew denser and what little light the sliver of moon above provided, diminished as though IT WERE BEING sucked deep into the ground with no escape.

What's the grammar's rule right down or can it just be a writer's misprint?


1 Answer 1


There is nothing wrong with the grammar. In "as though it were being sucked down", the verb form 'were' is the subjunctive, used to express hypothetical or unreal situations. In your example, the moonlight is not really being 'sucked' into the ground.

"His voice strained as though he were walking on a wire above a pit of sharks." He wasn't really walking above a pit of sharks.

A London paramedic was suspended after treating a seriously injured man as though he were drunk (news story). The injured man wasn't drunk.

The indicative 'was' can also be used in these situations, and some scholars say that the subjunctive is used less than formerly, in fact many native speakers never use it or know of it. Oxford Dictionaries says that the subjunctive arguably "conveys the hypothetical sense more forcefully."

When to use the subjunctive

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