On this page you will find some less common uses of the Subjunctive, not connected to any of the main Clauses already described.


     This is where I completely contradict what it said on the 'overview' page - about the Subjunctive needing an Indicative verb to lean on!

     There are a few occasions when the ONLY verb in the sentence is actually a Subjunctive. These are by no means common, and the main Subjunctive constructions on the previous pages are the ones you really need to know properly.

     Just in case, though, you do ever a see a Subjunctive verb on its own (poor abandoned thing…), this page should help you to be able to understand why (and give it some TLC).


   Follow the links in the box below in the usual way, trying not to laugh at the names.


Jussive Subjunctive & Exhortations

 Deliberative Subjunctive

UTINAM - Wishes & Regrets

Potential Subjunctive










                Sometimes the Present Subjunctive (not any of the others) is used to give another type of 'Order'.

          You are used to seeing Commands given using a verb's IMPERATIVES. These however only refer to the SECOND Person, singular or plural ('Come over here, YOU!')

        What, though, if you want the 'order' to apply to FIRST or THIRD persons? This is the function of this particular "independent" Present Subjunctive.

             e.g.    Let's go!  
                       Let him speak! 
                       Let me think!
                       Let them eat cake!

        These short expressions are generally known as EXHORTATIONS (which really means 'encouragements'). In Latin, they used the Present Subjunctive for these, sometimes called the "JUSSIVE" subjunctive (derived from 'IUBEO').

      A Present Subjunctive used on its own, probably in Direct Speech, is most likely to be an example of this usage.

      As above, it can be easily translated by the English word 'LET…. (us or me or them etc. do something)

   e.g.  FESTINEMUS!   -   Let's hurry!


   A Quick Technical Moment….

         In English we use this word 'Let…' in two slightly different senses, one of the meanings really being 'ALLOW him to…'. Something like 'Let him speak!' therefore is the true 'JUSSIVE' use, applying to the Third person; whereas a more personal encouragement to oneself ('Let me think') is the actual 'EXHORTATION' - for the First person. The distinction is a pretty fine one, and shouldn't concern anyone too much unless they want to write their own Grammar Book….


     There is of course a NEGATIVE side to this…

                                  What if you DON'T want him to do it?

       This is done (a little confusingly perhaps) by putting the word "NE…" directly in front of the subjunctive verb:

       e.g.   NE  PROCEDAMUS  -  Let's not go any further
NE  EFFUGIAT!  -  Don't let him get away!

        This use of NE can be told apart from any other use by its being almost certainly the FIRST WORD in a sentence of Direct Speech.


            Can you translate some of these other examples? Highlight the rest of the line for the answer.

                         PROELIUM  INCIPIAT!  -  Let battle begin!
                         MAGISTRUM  ROGEMUS!  -  Let's ask the master!
                         FORTIS SIM!  -  Let me be brave! I must be brave!
                         VINUM BIBAMUS!  -  Let's have a glass of wine! 
                         PROPE ME SEDEAT ILLA!  -  Let her sit next to me!
                         NE CURRAMUS!  -  Let's not run!
                         NE AUDIANT!   -  Don't let them hear!
                         NE SIT VERUM!  - Don't let it be true!
                         NE OCCIDATUR DUX!  -  Don't let the general be killed!
                         VIVAMUS ATQUE AMEMUS!  -  Let us live and love!


       Of all the 'Independent' uses of the Subjunctive, this is probably the most likely to turn up (that last example was a quote from Catullus!); even so, don't let it give you any sleepless nights...



 I can't help thinking that The Beatles might not have sold quite so many copies of one of their most famous songs if it they'd given its title in Latin:


(If that feeble joke has escaped you, run your cursor over the next line below this and groan….)

        "Let it be, Let it be, ….." etc.!









              The PRESENT or IMPERFECT subjunctive sometimes has the following use, of "deliberating" over an uncertain situation:

   e.g.  QUID FACIAMUS?    -  What are we to do? What should we do?
QUID DICEREM?  -  What could I say? What was I to say? 

    This creates a sort of rhetorical question, for a certain effect within a story to heighten the tension. It is not especially common, but you may encounter it.






    3.  UTINAM - Wishes or Regrets


           This is another possible use of the subjunctive with no Indicative main verb needed; it does demonstrate quite well for once the idea of the subjunctive referring to 'non-facts' - things that may or might happen or have happened.

         It is found after the word UTINAM, having the sense "If only..."  (which is still sometimes translated in less state-of-the-art notes than these by the old-fashioned "Would that… "!)

         Hopefully again just a couple of examples will be enough to give you the general idea. You may occasionally come across it in poetry (especially the Aeneid).

With WISHES for the FUTURE, UTINAM is followed by the PRESENT subjunctive:

    e.g.    UTINAM  EAM  INVENIAM  -  If only I could find her
UTINAM  ROMAM EAMUS  -  If only we could go to Rome

With REGRETS (often about the PAST), UTINAM is followed by the IMPERFECT or PLUPERFECT subjunctive:

   e.g.  UTINAM  DILIGENTIUS  LABORAVISSEM  -  If only I'd worked harder…
UTINAM  DUX  IPSE  ADESSET  -  If only the leader himself were here….









           Finally there is this similar use (connected also to the idea of Conditional Sentences), suggesting something that could or might happen. Only the
PRESENT or IMPERFECT Subjunctives are used:

                You'd have thought he'd have behaved more honourably

                ILLUD  DICAS  TU….
                You might say that…. (but I couldn't possibly comment…!)






         None of these minor uses of the Subjunctive are that desperately important. Should you come across an "unidentified Subjunctive" just floating around, however, you may perhaps recall this page and find the explanation!

(Now there's a couple of floating subjunctives for you! OK - were they Deliberative, Jussive, Potential, or……)