The subjunctive is the mood of subordination. AG 438
See also sequence of tenses, above.
Clauses with “cum
” take the subjunctive when the
”clause tells something about the circumstances
around the main action. AG 546
- “Cum civitas ob eam rem incitata armis ius suum exsequi conaretur, Orgetorix mortuus est, neque abest suspicio quin ipse sibi mortem consciverit.” Caesar, BG 1.4. Here Caesar's use of the subjunctive means that Orgetorix died not just while the Helvetians were preparing to fight him, but because they'd turned against him — as the next clause makes clear.
- “Quid facient crines, cum ferro talia cedant?” Catullus 66.47
- “At studuit Catilinae, cum iam aliquot annos esset in foro, Caelius.” Cicero, Cael. 12 If Cicero had said “fuit”, he would simply have been indicating the time when Caelius took up with Catiline. “Esset” means that Caelius's several years of experience in the Forum are relevant: Caelius had already begun to establish himself as a competent, steady young man.
Concessive and causal “cum-
”clauses also take the subjunctive. AG 549
Subordinate clauses in indirect discourse take the subjunctive, though clauses that are
not actually part of the quotation take the same mood as they would in direct discourse. AG 580
Indirect questions take the subjunctive. AG 574
Conditional sentences take the subjunctive when the protasis is false; these are
"contrary to fact" conditionals. "Future less vivid" conditionals, where the protasis
gives a supposition or hypothesis that might or might not be true, also use the subjunctive.
Sometimes general or "whenever" conditionals take the subjunctive, but these may also be
treated as simple conditionals. AG 514
- “Nostri, si ab illis initium transeundi fieret, parati in armis erant.” Caesar, BG 2.9 Our troops were ready in case theirs might begin to cross. The protasis is a hypothesis and the apodosis a fact; the protasis uses the imperfect subjunctive for subsequent action in secondary sequence.
- “Si nostri oblita taceret, sana esset.” Catullus 83.3-4 If Lesbia will forget about us and be quiet (which is not what she is doing), she will be OK (but instead she's going to fall in love). The protasis and apodosis are both contrary to fact; the imperfect subjunctive is used for continuing action, because the entire poem is cast in the present tense (cf. “dicit”, line 1).
Purpose clauses, sometimes called "final" clauses, take the subjunctive. AG 531
Result clauses, sometimes called "consecutive" clauses, take the subjunctive. AG 537
Relative clauses "of characteristic" also take the subjunctive; these give
a general rule characterizing the antecedent. AG 534-535
Relative clauses can take the subjunctive when they are equivalent to purpose clauses; here “qui
” is equivalent to “ut is
”. AG 531
The subjunctive can also be used in independent clauses, though this
is relatively rare. Independent clauses with the subjunctive include commands
("hortatory" or "jussive" subjunctive, AG 439-440
wishes ("optative" subjunctive, AG 441-442
doubtful questions ("deliberative" subjunctive, AG 444
Negative commands are also independent clauses with the subjunctive, except of course those that use “noli
” with the infinitive. AG 450