6

I desire he visit us more often.

This is correct, right?

I hope he visit us more often.

Why is this incorrect? Why should I use “visits” instead?

  • 2
    I visit. We visit. You visit. You all visit. He visits. They visit. – RonJohn Aug 30 at 4:14
  • 2
    Note that in some dialects, you'll hardly hear the 'll when someone says "I hope he'll visit us more often". – Mr Lister Aug 30 at 13:00
13

You want to look into subjunctive mood.

The verb "desire" falls into the subjunctive category, so the following verb takes the subjunctive form:

I desire that he visit me more often.

Notice the additional "that", which is required.

"Hope" does not fall into the subjunctive category, so it does not need the subjunctive mood:

I hope he visits tomorrow.

There isn't a lot of general rule around this. It's axiomatic. Typically, sentences that express an achievable want/expectation will use subjunctive mood. "Hope" and "wish" are well-known exceptions.

Keep in mind that subjunctive mood is not widely used colloquially, but it is important in formal/professional use.

  • Beat me to it! I was doing some research and came up empty-handed for "hope". – Mari-Lou A Aug 29 at 17:43
  • @Mari-LouA, I can't remember ever reading a good explanation. I speculate that hope and wish are more about hypothetical thoughts than actions for someone. "I recommend he see a doctor" is a request for an action. "I hope he will see a doctor" is my own personal thought. We have come to use it as a suggestion in disguise but, literally-speaking, hope and wish are still personal thoughts, as opposed to directives. That's my guess. – urnonav Aug 29 at 18:33
  • Thank you for your quick answer. “I desire that he visit me more often.” “I desire he visit me more often.” “I desire that he visits me more often.” “I desire he visits me more often.” Someone please tell me which are acceptable. – Yamacure Aug 29 at 23:49
  • @Yamacure Only the first one of those four is acceptable. – Daniel Aug 30 at 3:24
  • Dang... this is completely correct, yet it's reminded me how frustrating it is that there's no real "rule" here beyond "because it is" meh – Lightness Races with Monica Aug 30 at 12:35
6

I desire he visit us more often.
I hope he visit us more often.

If the OP was attempting to construct two subjunctive sentences, the grammar was almost there.

The English subjunctive is a special, relatively rare verb form that expresses something desired or imagined.

We use the subjunctive mainly when talking about events that are not certain to happen. For example, we use the subjunctive when talking about events that somebody:

wants to happen
anticipates will happen
imagines happening

English Club

Although the subjunctive has long gone out of fashion in colloquial British English, it still has its supporters across the Atlantic, where you are most likely to encounter it. See for example how it is used in an article by the American newspaper The Hill

“Trump told The Associated Press that while he doesn’t think it is “overly necessary” that he visit a military base in a combat zone, he plans to do so “at some point” in the future.”

The subjunctive mood is more common in formal writing and speech, and this continues to be also true in British English.

Many American English speakers would consider the mandative subjunctive “visit” to be fully correct, if any of the following verbs was followed by a that clause.

to advise (that), to ask (that), to command (that), to demand (that), to desire (that), to insist (that), to propose (that), to recommend (that), to request (that), to suggest (that), to urge (that) etc.

I desire that he visit us more often
I suggest that he visit us more often
I prefer that he visit us more often

Unfortunately, the verb hope is NOT included in that list.

I tried, briefly, searching online for a possible explanation, but I could not find any.

When any verb follows hope, in the present simple tense, the third person singular always requires an -s or -es marker.

I/we hope she visits us more often
I/we hope he stays longer next time
He hopes she passes her exam

A special mention for wish which is also used in the subjunctive mood but primarily with past tense forms

  1. If I were a rich man (obligatory Youtube link)
  2. John wishes he were taller
  3. We wish we could afford to move home
  • @Marie-Lou A I hope he will come is also correct .I will show you number of examples but I am not sure of the verb desire – Englishmonger Aug 29 at 17:50
  • @JagathaVLNarasimharao but I'm not talking about future tense. Yes, you right that "I hope he will come" is correct, but the aim of my answer (posted a little late) was to show that the "present" mandative form is used for all subjects in subjunctive clauses. – Mari-Lou A Aug 29 at 17:54
  • A good answer +1 but I would question the statement 'The subjunctive mood is more common in formal writing and speech, and this continues to be also true in British English.' Except in set phrases ('God save the Queen') the subjunctive mood is very rarely used in modern British English in any kind of speech. And if it is used in formal writing then that is very formal writing. – JeremyC Aug 30 at 22:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.