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Present Subjunctive
The present subjunctive verb has to do with condition, uncertainty, compulsion, etc. Before learning the exact places of usage, let’s learn its conjugation.
The conjugation of the present subjunctive is quite easy. It consists of the following parts:
1- The imperative of the verb (this includes the verbs that their imperatives are exceptions to the general imperative rule)
2- The same ending used for the corresponding subject in present simple
Let’s see an example.
Verb Infinitive:
Present Stem:
[I] die
[you] die
[he/she/it] die
[we] die
[you (pl.)] die
[they] die
As for the negative subjunctive, the same formula is used; only the imperative is replaced by the negative imperative.
The indicative form of the verb (i.e. the simple form) expresses facts and concrete realities, while the subjunctive expresses actions and states that are only being considered in the mind. The subjunctive form does not exist in English (actually it does show up for the verb “to be” in formal contexts, e.g., "It is necessary that you be there") but it is present in many languages (such as French, Spanish, and Arabic). Some of the environments where the subjunctive used are listed below.
1- Condition
اگر بمیری من تنها می‌شوم.
اگر بخواهی می‌توانی اتاقم را ببینی.
اگر ما حمله نکنیم، آنها حمله می‌کنند.
عکسم را نشانت می‌دهم به شرط این که نخندی.
I’ll become alone if you die.
You can see my room if you want.
If we don’t attack, they will attack.
I’ll show you my picture under the condition
that you do not laugh.
2- Doubt
شاید این جمعه بیاید.
ممکن است آدم‌فضایی‌ها ندانند ما این‌جاییم.
He/She may come this Friday.
It’s possible that the aliens don’t know we are here.
3- Necessity
باید امشب بروم.
لازم است قبله‌ی عالم بدانند که ارتش
روسیه از مرزهای شمالی گذشته است.
نباید به دیگران بخندیم.
این دیوار باید خراب شود.
I should go tonight.
It is necessary for his majesty to know that the Russian
army has crossed (lit. passed) the northern borders.
We should not laugh at others.
This wall has to be razed.
4- Volition
می‌خواهم زنده بمانم.
دلم نمی‌خواست محمود را در زندان ببینم.
دوست دارم تنها باشم.
تصمیم گرفتم دیگر سیگار نکشم.
آرزو می‌کنم پرنده شوم.
I want to stay alive.
I didn’t want to (lit. “My heart didn’t want to”) see
Mahmud in jail.
I want (lit. like) to be alone.
I decided not to smoke cigarettes anymore.
I wish to become a bird.
Pay special attention to the last example where the imperative of “شدن” comes as “شو” rather than “بشو”. (present subjunctive = imperative + suffix) This is one of the cases mentioned in the imperatives lesson, where the imperative is “شو” although the verb can hardly be considered part of a combined verb. Of course, it was still correct – though less common - if “بشوم” was used instead.
5- Ability and Potential
می‌توانم صدای پای نسترن را تشخیص بدهم.
یک گرم از این ماده قادر است هزاران لیتر آب را
آلوده کند.
امید نتوانست جان زنش را نجات دهد.
I can distinguish Nastaran's footstep.
One gram of this material is able to pollute
thousands of liters of water.
Omid could not save his wife’s life.
In the last example, note that the verb appears without the prefix “بـ”. This is allowed for some compound verb such as this one, but not compulsory. As a general rule, except with compound verbs made with “کردن” and “شدن”, using the “بـ” suffix is always allowed, especially in colloquial Persian.
6- Cause and effect
مریم چیزی نمی‌خورد تا دل ما برایش بسوزد.
بیا تا برویم.
چراغ‌ها را خاموش کن که بتوانیم بخوابیم.
شیر مادر باعث می‌شود کودک بهتر رشد کند.
Maryam doesn’t eat anything so that we feel
sorry for her. (lit so that our heart burns for her)
Come, so that we can go.
Turn off the lights so that we can sleep.
Breast milk causes the infant to grow up better.
7- Expectation and hope
امیدوارم حرفم را بفهمی.
کاشکی مجید بر گردد!
خدا آنها را بکشد!
کاش زهرا آن‌جا باشد!
I hope (literally: I am hopeful) you understand my word.
I hope Majid returns! (Literally: May Majid return!)
Let’s go!
Shall we go?
May God kill them!
I hope Zahra is there!
For inviting the interlocutor to do something together, the word “بیا” or “بیایید” (imperative form of “آمدن”, meaning “come!”) must come at the beginning of a sentence and the main verb of the sentence must come in present subjunctive tense.
بیا برویم!
بیایید چشم‌هایمان را ببندیم!
Let’s go! (singular audience)
Let’s close our eyes! (plural audience)
Note again, however, that not all the situations where the subjunctive is used are included here. In fact, the subjunctive is used whenever the verb is not informing us about an action, but is considering the idea of that action happening. Here are some examples of the cases which do not belong to the categories mentioned above.
دنبال خانه‌ای می‌گردم که حیاط داشته‌باشد.
به جای این که بخندی جواب من را بده.
نمی‌گذارم کسی از این خانه چیزی بدزدد.
می‌ترسم ببازم.
I’m looking for a house that has a backyard.
Instead of laughing, give [me] my answer.
I don’t let anyone steal anything from this house.
I am afraid of losing.