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Question:

I need to choose the correct form of the verb given in the brackets.

If this heat wave ----- ,we will have an early summer break(persist).

My approach:

Ans is 'persists'. I have searched its meaning and found that 'persists' can be used with 3rd person but probably there is no 3rd person in the subordinate clause.

I have confusion whether I can say "If this heat wave persist or persistS, we will have have an early summer break".

Please Correct me if I am wrong. Could you provide me with other examples?

  • @Stephie I am editing the post and will mention only those sentences which i have more confusion than less ones. – Jalaj Chawla Aug 28 '15 at 5:17
  • @MaulikV i am editing the post wait before closing it as off topic. – Jalaj Chawla Aug 28 '15 at 5:19
  • @Stephie Done editing. – Jalaj Chawla Aug 28 '15 at 5:27
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    See, this is a real question: It concerns one specific issue (persist or persists) and even your thoughts on the topic. Now it goes from a VTC to a +1 (if only for your cooperation). – Stephie Aug 28 '15 at 5:32
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    Exactly. Now you only have to decide if it's singular (+s) or plural (no s) – Stephie Aug 28 '15 at 5:49
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If this heat wave persists, we will have an early summer break.

"Heat wave" is third person singular, hence we use persists.

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If this heat wave ----- ,we will have an early summer break(persist).

As you noted in your answer, "heat wave" is considered third person singular, so persists is the correct form.

To provide an example demonstrating singular vs plural, we can look at two sentences:

If the road -----, we will not be able to get to the cabin(close).

(vs)

If the roads -----, we will not be able to get to the cabin(close).

In the first sentence, "closes" is the correct form since "road" is third person singular. The second sentence refers to third person plural "roads", so "close" would be the correct form.

Hope this clarifies it a little for you :)

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In normal usage, only persists is possible. However, in certain registers, it is possible to use the subjunctive form persist in this situation, because it is the main verb in an if-clause.

The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language gives the following example on page 1000:

He struggles in vain against the proposition that if the mind be immaterial, its functions ought to be unaffected by the condition of the body.

The Grammar says that the subjunctive is "fairly rare [in conditionals], especially with verb-forms other than be; it belongs to formal style and verges on the archaic."

Here is an example with a verb other than be, taken from Higher Course Geometry by Forder (1930):

If the ray HA' cut the circle ABC in T, prove that HA' = A'T, TK || BC.

(It is clear from the context that the past tense is not intended here.)

In summary, you may occasionally encounter the subjunctive mood (persist) after if in highly formal texts, particularly older ones. However it is extremely unlikely that you will want to use anything other than the indicative mood (persists) in your own writing.

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