I'm a bit puzzled and cannot identify the exact clause type the Subjunctive mood is used for in the following sentences:

  1. It is high time we went home
  2. It was time somebody did something
  3. It's time she didn't confuse our names.

I have two different textbooks, and they say different things. One textbook says these are subject clauses, while other textbook says these are attributive clauses.

Could anyone please help me with these?


1 Answer 1


It is high time [we went home].

It was time [somebody did something].

It's time [she didn't confuse our names].

I don't know why you mentioned the 'subjunctive mood'. Even if English had one (which it doesn't), the bracketed elements would still not be subjunctive clauses.

They are in fact declarative content clauses functioning as complement of "time".

Note: for more advanced learners, these are extraposition constructions where the subordinate clauses are best analysed as being in post-verbal position, serving simply as a semantic argument of the verb phrase.

  • Yes, there is no unique verb form for the subjunctive in the sense that some other languages (like French) do. But while English doesn't have particular verb inflexions for modality, it doesn't mean the Subjunctive mood doesn't exist whatsoever. I am studying the functional and theoretical grammar for my Master's degree, thus I am taught different views and approaches. I don't think you would disagree that the subordinate clauses could be classified further down relating your "semantic argument of the verb phrase". Would you say there's no such thing as subject clause, object clause, etc.?
    – Lyubov
    Oct 1, 2020 at 16:23
  • 1
    @Lyubov ELL is aimed at relative beginners and ESL learners, and hence is unsuitable for questions relating to theoretical grammar. May I suggest you ask your question on SE Linguistics, where there are a whole host of 'clever-dicks'! link
    – BillJ
    Oct 1, 2020 at 16:36
  • Oh, thank you so much! I had no idea!
    – Lyubov
    Oct 1, 2020 at 16:44

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