So I just encountered this sentence:

The writer must, however, be certain that the emphasis is warranted, lest a clipped sentence seem merely a blunder in syntax or in punctuation.

Why dose the author use “seem” instead of “seems”?

1 Answer 1


A hypothetical, nonactual case is described (the clipped sentence appearing incorrect), so the subjunctive verb form is used, which is the bare form here.

  • Thanks Chemomechanics, that makes sense. So does “lest” always signal subjunctive mood?
    – sho
    Dec 12, 2020 at 22:32
  • Very often, yes; see these example sentences. Dec 13, 2020 at 1:53

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