The subjunctive mood expresses a particular condition: “I hope that you…,” “I suggest that she…,” and “it’s important that I…” In each case, that sets up an expectation for the remainder of the sentence. The challenge comes in the verb that follows that opening. Is it essential that he write well, or writes well?
- She insists that he leaves now because he corrected her grammar.
- Management recommends that the committee approves the project.
- He used to command that his underlings are at attention at all times.
The tendency in this error is to conjugate the verb: “that he leaves,” “that the committee approves,” etc. However, the verb after that should always be unconjugated: leave, approve, be. She insists that he leave now. Management recommends that the committee approve the project. He commanded that his underlings be at attention. It’s simple; I hope that you learn.
A lovely consistency of this aspect of the subjunctive mood is that when it expresses commands, suggestions, and wishes, the verb that follows (eat, stir, watch, etc.) is always in present tense, regardless of the tense of the rest of the sentence. She insisted that you leave (past tense), she insists that you leave (present tense), and she will insist that you leave (future tense) all use “leave.”