There is a new patty on the market. Its main ingredient is insects. Producers say that it taste like peanuts.

A typical correction here might be: "it tastes like" (it = the patty).

... say that it would taste like = say it taste like.

So, is "taste" - as a present tense subjunctive - acceptable, rare, wrong?

  • 1
    Another typical correction here might be it's = it is. The Saxon genitive its = of it has no apostrophe. I've no idea why you think taste might be "present tense subjunctive" in your example context. It's just wrong. Commented Jul 5 at 17:23
  • It's wrong, and also its [main ingredient...] does not have an apostrophe. Commented Jul 5 at 17:23
  • 1
    @MichaelHarvey: Snap! Commented Jul 5 at 17:24
  • 2
    @NederlanditisNederlanditis You've proposed something completely nonstandard without explaining why you think it's acceptable. This question has a vanishingly small chance of being useful to anyone, including you, since we can't address your underlying misconception if we don't know what it is. You can edit the question if you don't think it should be closed. Commented Jul 5 at 17:59
  • 1
    Let me try that in a different tone. No, this usage won't do. But if you can explain why you thought it might, then we can give a more useful answer than "no." (Meanwhile @the-baby-is-you this question does appear to me to be on-topic and good enough to answer, even if edits could bring better answers. It is emphatically not a proofreading question (I wonder who keeps misusing that reason?), and not easily answerable by a reference work. Commented Jul 5 at 18:21

1 Answer 1


First: Yes, the original quote needs correction. In "producers say that it taste like peanuts," we have a singular subject and plural verb.

Yes, using the singular form "tastes" would be a common correction, as it stays the closest to the apparent intended meaning.

... say that it would taste like = say it taste like.

These two aren't the same. When we add "would," we get a hypothetical. It sounds like you've been taught to call this "subjunctive"; I don't want to undo too much of your teaching, but I used the word "hypothetical" instead because the subjunctive mood is a tricky subject and English doesn't really have a special verb tense for it. But this usage needs the helping verb "would." Many usages have helping verbs, and their "help" is not optional! So if you take the "would" away again, then you are back to plain old simple present, and must use "tastes."

Now, is the hypothetical a good choice here?

There is a new patty on the market. Its main ingredient is insects. Producers say that it would taste like peanuts.

It's not terrible, and not necessarily something that you would insist on "correcting," but it's not the most logical choice. The new patty already exists! It's on the market! It has a taste. Its taste isn't imaginary or potential. The hypothetical usage would make more sense if producers were still planning and perfecting the patty.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .