What is the formal grammar behind the phrase "glad shall he be"?

I think the "he be" portion indicates subjunctive tense but I am not sure. Also, why is there "shall" instead of "will"? I thought "shall" is preferred with "I/we".

An explanation of we/shall and/or the subjunctive conjugation in English would be appreciated with the explanation.

  • 5
    This is an archaic way of writing "he shall be glad". Inverting the order doesn't change the tense or mood.
    – Barmar
    May 5, 2023 at 21:08
  • could you please elaborate on the difference between archaic order vs modern order?
    – Cadmus
    May 5, 2023 at 21:20
  • 1
    "he be glad" is subjunctive, it has to be part of a larger phrase, like "I suggested he be glad".
    – Barmar
    May 5, 2023 at 21:29
  • 1
    Yes, that's what I'm saying. "glad he shall be" is not the same as "he be glad". They're not related at all.
    – Barmar
    May 5, 2023 at 22:07
  • 1
    @EdwinAshworth Not to mention 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.
    – tchrist
    May 6, 2023 at 21:41

1 Answer 1


"glad shall he be"

This is an archaic use of the guidance that the verb should be the second element in a sentence. Thus fronting adverbs/adjectives were the first element and caused an apparent subject verb inversion:

e.g. "Long was the road to her heart but dearly did I love her."

Outside poetic/literary language, this now exists only in a few adverbial locative cases and usually in "to be" clauses:

Here (adv.) are (v.) your gloves (subj.), and there (adv.) is (v.) your hat (subj.)

"In the garden was a cat."

Just to reiterate: there is no subjunctive in "Glad shall he be." - you should have recogised the modal "shall" ... modals are followed by a bare infinitive.

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