1.Etiquette requires that the bride's father makes a speech.

2.The situation requires that he go there.

UPDATED: These are two different sentences. My questions are about those, not only one of them. No one has explained anything as to the latter.

I am wondering the reason for--in the first sentence -- there has been used the s on makes.

Basically, I meant although the two sentences are subjunctive, in fact, why the first one has used s.

  • You've already asked a similar question before. The answer I've given there should also be sufficient for this thread too. :) – F.E. Jan 20 '15 at 19:01

In the first sentence, makes is actually in the indicative mood, not the subjunctive. That’s why makes has an s.

In the second sentence, go is in the subjunctive mood. That’s why it’s not goes.

Regarding the meaning of the sentences, both verbs describe a required situation that may or may not actually occur. The first sentence doesn't say that the bride's father is making a speech or will make a speech; it only says that he is required to. This is what calls for the subjunctive mood. When the wedding really happens, maybe the bride's father will do what etiquette requires of him, and maybe he won't.

However, grammatically, the subjunctive mood is mostly optional in English. People usually usually put the verb governed by require into the subjunctive mood, but not always. In other words, these sentences mean the same as your examples:

Etiquette requires that the bride's father make a speech.

The situation requires that he goes there.

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  • The first sentence since it does have the "s" might be said to be grammatically in the indicative mood, but semantically it is a subjunctive clause and thus, historically would have used the subjunctive form of the verb. – eques Jan 16 '15 at 17:24
  • Ben, what do you mean by "real"?? – nima Jan 21 '15 at 9:22
  • And, could we say just"goes" instead of "go"? – nima Jan 21 '15 at 9:23
  • @nima By "may or may not be real", I meant that the requirement may or may not be fulfilled. So, the subordinate clause isn't describing the real world as it is, it's describing a sort of imagined world of what is required. I'll edit the answer to use a clearer word than "real". – Ben Kovitz Jan 21 '15 at 9:29
  • @nima Regarding "goes", yes, you can say "go" or "goes". This is what I mean by the subjunctive mood being optional. If you say "...requires that he goes...", that's indicative. If you say "...requires that he go...", that's subjunctive. The meaning is the same in both cases. Copperkettle's answer provides some sentences where the meaning changes, but those are unusual. The subjunctive mood has been dying out for over 100 years, and is almost forgotten, but people do still use it frequently, especially in the United States. – Ben Kovitz Jan 21 '15 at 9:33

Ben Kovitz is right: it's not a crime to use the indicative mood, people will still understand what you meant to say.

There are rare instances when the meanings will be different:

  1. I insist that the bride's father makes a speech. (indicative: I am sure that the ceremony calls for the bride’s father to make a speech.)
  2. I insist that the bride's father make a speech. (subjunctive: I want the bride's father to deliver his speech, and I want it very much - I express my desire)

  3. The bride was insistent that her father made a speech. (indicative: She assured someone that her father made a speech)

  4. The bride was insistent that her father make a speech (subjunctive: She wanted her father to deliver a speech).

This is described quite well in Wikipedia's article on Subjunctive. The article says that British speakers of English more often use the indicative form (1, 3) in informal speech.

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  • 1
    That's because most Brits wouldn't know the difference between the two [& that includes me, unless it is shown as these examples] & would be most unlikely to use the subjunctive in everyday usage. ;) – gone fishin' again. Jan 16 '15 at 18:38
  • Actually, using the indicative when the meaning is subjunctive is a crime, but England is a land of scofflaws. – Ben Kovitz Jan 17 '15 at 1:28
  • 1
    Seriously, I like the list of situations where the choice of mood affects the meaning. However, the situation you described with “makes a speech” actually calls for the presnt progressive, not the simple present tense. However, the indicative meaning could be something like: I am sure that the ceremony calls for the bride’s father to make a speech. (There I go with the subjunctive again to explain it, though.) – Ben Kovitz Jan 17 '15 at 2:19
  • Thank you for the comment, @BenKovitz! I used your definition in the answer. – CowperKettle Jan 17 '15 at 5:19

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