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Lesson 9: Subjunctive - part 3 | 1 2 3

Passive tenses

When you will encounter the subjunctive:

  1. Desires, wishes, proclamations

    The most common use of the subjunctive is to express someone’s hope for an action to occur, particularly if there is an element of uncertainty attached to that action.

    You will find this use throughout the documentation you look at, particularly in charters and deeds, where it often occurs at the beginning of the text.

    For example:

    Pateat universis…
    Let it be known to all…

    Sciant presentes et future…
    Know [men] present and future…

    Scias…
    Know you…
    (May you know that…)

  2. 'Ut' and 'ne'

    You will often notice 'ut' and 'ne' introducing a subjunctive clause.

    1. One occasion where you will see this happening is when a subjunctive is used to express a command or order rather than an imperative. This is called the jussive subjunctive (from the verb jubeo, jubere, jussi, jussum (2) – to order). In this case, you will notice that 'ut' introduces a positive command and 'ne' introduces a negative one.

    For example:

    Preceptum est ut Adam commune habeat
    It is ordered that Adam should have common land

    Preceptum est ne Adam commune habeat
    It is ordered that Adam should not have common land

    A negative order or command can also be expressed using 'quod' and 'nullus, -a, -um' with the subjunctive.

    For example:

    Preceptum est quod Adam habeat nullum commune
    It is ordered that Adam should have no common land

    1. A second occasion where you will see this happening is when 'ut' and 'ne' are used to introduce purpose. Just as before, 'ut' is used to indicate a positive purpose and 'ne' a negative purpose.

    In this case, ‘ut’ is translated as ‘in order that’ or ‘so that’.

    For example:

    Et ut audiret communicacionem…
    And in order that he might hear the communication…

    Ne’ is translated ‘in order that…not’, ‘so that…not’, ‘lest, ‘to avoid’, ‘to prevent’.

    Et ne audiret communicacionem…
    And in order that he might not hear the communication…
    And so that he might not hear the communication…
    And lest he might hear the communication…

  3. Conditions

    You will encounter this use of the subjunctive frequently in wills and deeds, to express what should happen in the event of a death.

    One of the most common examples is:

    Si contingat…
    If it should happen…

    contingo, contingere, contigi, contactum (3) to happen, befall, come to pass

  4. After 'cum'

    The subjunctive often appears in clauses where 'cum' means 'although', 'since' or 'whereas'.

    For example, in court rolls such a clause often appears in entries where a reference to an event at the previous court is included.

    For example:

    Cum Simo ad ultimam curiam apparuerit, ad istam curiam venit…
    Whereas Simon appeared [literally 'he may have appeared'] at the last court, he has come to this court…
    Simo, Simonis (m.) Simon
    appareo, apparere, apparui, apparitum (2) to appear

  5. Concealed questions

    You will probably encounter this in documents relating to inquiries, with a form of 'An inquiry is to be held' + question word (when/where/if/whether/why/how etc.).

    For example:

    Lucia rogat pro inquisitione habenda si sit uxor Nicholai

    Lucy asks for an inquiry to be held [as to] whether she is the wife of Nicholas

Checklist

Are you confident with:

  • When you will encounter the subjunctive?
  • How to translate the subjunctive?
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