Could you possibly help me on this question please?

"All right, Johhny, it's time you ..........to bed."

  1. went
  2. would go
  3. will be going
  4. going to go

I would have gone for the word "go" but it is not in options.

Another similar question is that

" Your hair is too long.It is time .............a haircut"



2 Answers 2


Not sure what the grammatical name for this is, but the correct answer is the simple past tense of the verb:

  • It's time you went to bed.
  • It's time you got a haircut.

This might be considered a slightly pedantic construct. Most native speakers of English would probably be more inclined to say:

  • It's time for you to go to bed.
  • It's time for you to get a haircut.
  • -1 Looks like the "simple past," but it's the subjunctive mood.
    – user6951
    Nov 4, 2014 at 20:44
  • @F.E. Prove it. Resource? Beside that post on the Linguistics Stack Exchange, which I don't consider authoritative. It's time you be in bed is subj and correct. It's time you are in bed fails. I also don't do drive-by downvotes.
    – user6951
    Nov 5, 2014 at 14:56
  • 2
    @CarSmack If you open an ELL thread with that question, then someone will probably come by and discuss how "it is the simple past-tense form of a verb" (by using vetted grammar sources). Sorta curious, if it is very easy to do, could you link to that Linguistics Stack Exchange thread that you mentioned? (Aside: I haven't downvoted anything in this thread.)
    – F.E.
    Nov 5, 2014 at 18:49
  • @F.E. Actually, this thread has plenty of resources cited. But I think it's debated even by professional linguists. So for every opinion says it's hypothetical present, there's one says it's subjunctive. Luckily for learners, since they share the same spelling in most instances, it doesn't matter much what label one attaches to it.
    – user6951
    Nov 5, 2014 at 21:32
  • 2
    @CarSmack In that linked to thread, there is some good info, and some bad info. In that thread I saw this "Contrary to Hudlum I think ... If you or Hudlum would look to German ...", and well, if a person doesn't know how to spell Pullum right, then ya gotta wonder about the other stuff. There is a lot of confusion out there as to the difference between verb forms and modality, and as to the syntactic subjunctive construction, and with the irrealis "were". To communicate, labels need to have understood meanings.
    – F.E.
    Nov 6, 2014 at 0:03

In such constructions as

It's time you...
It's about time you...
It's high time you...
? It's past time you...

You use the subjunctive.

In this construction, the past subjunctive is used much more often, thus went to bed.

However, the present subjunctive is also possible: go to bed.

The difference? Hard to explain, but the present subjunctive comes across as less polite, more direct, or rude.

The haircut example works the same way.

EDIT: to show this is the subjunctive mood, consider the present subjunctive of to be, which is be.

past subjunctive:
It's high time you went to bed.

present subjunctive:
It's high time you be in bed.

*It's high time you are in bed.

  • It's high time you be in bed sound most unnatural to this speaker of BrE.
    – tunny
    Nov 5, 2014 at 8:54
  • @tunny Click on the link for Subjunctive in my post, and you might find other examples that sound unnatural. I never said the present subjunctive of to be was going to survive.
    – user6951
    Nov 5, 2014 at 14:52
  • 2
    @CarSmack. I clicked. I find all those natural. I didn't see an example of "it is/'s (high) time + present subjunctive" there. I found only seven citations in the Corpus of Web-Based Global English, four of them from the USA, two from India and just one from Britain. I found no citations in the British National Corpus. The Ngram viewer found lots of weres, but no bes.
    – tunny
    Nov 5, 2014 at 15:09
  • @tunny I never said it was frequently used. I also notice you have, or did have, a "problem" with It's time I were in bed, I don't see much use in further comment.
    – user6951
    Nov 5, 2014 at 15:27

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