0

This question already has an answer here:

If you had been my child, I would have demanded that such an irresponsible teacher be fired.

It is the subjunctive mood, I suppose. Why every verb in the sentence in the past, but be is in the present?

marked as duplicate by StoneyB, FumbleFingers, Hellion, Persian Cat, WendiKidd Jun 30 '13 at 0:29

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • 1
    This is a "mandative subjunctive", discussed here: "It was recommended that" + verb in present tense. – StoneyB Jun 28 '13 at 2:24
  • I'm closevoting as a Dup of that earlier question, but would just point out that be here isn't really "present tense" at all - it's just a "bare infinitive". In this exact context, a "tensed" version of the verb can't be used, but in similar constructions it's (informally, at least) possible. "If he hits my child, I will demand that such an aggressive teacher is fired". – FumbleFingers Jun 28 '13 at 16:00
1

Subjunctive tenses are a little more abstract with respect to time than indicative ones are. This is a good overview of usage: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_subjunctive

With the verb to be, past tense implies a condition known not to be the case, whereas present tense doesn't imply that knowledge. For example:

If Abraham Lincoln were alive today, he probably wouldn't be able to run for president.

Be he alive or be he dead, I'll grind his bones to make my bread.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.