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I am watching a talk show. The link of the talk:https://www.ted.com/talks/bevy_smith_how_to_discover_your_authentic_self_at_any_age/comments/transcript

Below is the transcript of that talk:

Lolly’s number one lesson: don’t settle. Don’t settle. Now I’m aware that my well-paying, glamorous career is not exactly the humdrum, “I hate my job” stereotype that most people equate with settling. But it was a settle for me, because when I actually did quit my job at the age of 38, it was with the intention that every day be a great adventure. Now sometimes it was a very scary adventure, like being broke from the age of 40 to 45. But even still, I wouldn’t trade that for the safe and settled version, because if I had, I would not be here with y’all today.

Is that "be" in "be a great adventure" the subjunctive form?

I just read about subjunctive in this link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/grammar/learnit/learnitv105.shtml .

I know that the purpose of using subjunctive is to make the sentence sound formal.

The original sentence:

(1)...because when I actually did quit my job at the age of 38, it was with the intention that every day be a great adventure.

Can I paraphrase the sentence like this? :

(2)...because when I actually did quit my job at the age of 38, it was with the intention that every day would be a great adventure.

Does that (1) sound more formal than (2)?

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    Hi, I answered your question, but please cite the source of the transcript. (A link would be helpful, too, if possible.) Mar 7, 2023 at 5:15
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    @MarcInManhattan thank you so much for your answer. It is very useful. I just added the link of the talk in my original post.
    – LE HANH
    Mar 7, 2023 at 7:40

1 Answer 1

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Is that "be" in "be a great adventure" the subjunctive form?

Yes, the bare infinitive "be" is used here because it is in what is often called the "present subjunctive".


I know that the purpose of using subjunctive is to make the sentence sound formal.

This is incorrect; the subjunctive has very specific purposes in clause structure related to meaning. The English subjunctive is slowly dying and is often avoided in casual speech, so it can sometimes seem formal. However, in some cases it is mandatory, even in very informal speech. (Note that I'm only addressing the "present subjunctive" here. There is also something often called the "past subjunctive".)


Can I paraphrase the sentence like this?

Yes, your sentence has the same meaning. The author's "intention" is the same in both cases.


Does that (1) sound more formal than (2)?

Perhaps. I don't think that (1) sounds particularly formal or informal and probably wouldn't even think about that verb when reading that sentence. However, opinions will vary, and I'm sure that there are some people who will find (1) more formal.

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  • Maybe it's just me, but bare be in OP's example sounds noticeably more "formal" to me than should be (or would be - I don't have a strong preference in this exact context). Mar 7, 2023 at 12:11

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