I have seen two related questions. This one here has an answer trying to give some general explanation, but I don't understand it well. Let me try with a simple example:

Text me back when you (be) back at the office.

The context I am thinking of is: I have just been to your office but you were not there and I want to meet you in person. Is it clear?

In my mother tongue that would be a subjunctive, but unfortunately English does not have.

How about when you be back at your office?

1 Answer 1


"Be" is the form of "to be" that is traditionally described as the present subjunctive. (Not everyone likes the term.) It is a verb form that is the same as the bare infinitive and which is used in mandative constructions (especially in American English but maybe increasingly in British English, e.g. he asked that she leave) and in certain set phrases (so be it) and in a few very formal, somewhat old-fashioned constructions (whether it be red or blue).

That said, English doesn't use a subjunctive of any kind in this context:

Text me back when you (be) back at the office.

"Be" is wrong here. It has to be:

Text me back when you are back at the office


Text me back when you're back at the office.

("In the office" is perhaps more likely, though "at the office" is possible.)

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