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Tenses of the subjunctive; sequence of tenses

The tense of a verb in the subjunctive in a subordinate clause depends on its relationship to the time of the main clause. When the main verb refers to the present or the future (a "primary" tense), the subjunctive is a present tense. When the main verb refers to the past (a "secondary" tense), the subjunctive is in a past tehse. If the action described by the subjunctive verb comes before the action of the main verb (that is, it is completed action at the time of the main verb), the subjunctive comes from the perfect system. If the subjunctive desribes an action at the same time as that of the main verb, or an action that comes after that of the main verb (that is, action that is not completed), the subjunctive comes from the present system. So:

Main verb primaryMain verb secondary
Subjunctive happens before (complete)Perfect subjunctivePluperfect subjunctive
Subjunctive happens after (incomplete)Present subjunctiveImperfect subjunctive

AG 482-483

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