Deliberative Subjunctive

a) Whereas the indicative mood makes a statement, the subjunctive mood can be used to ask a question. The question usually involves deliberating about a certain course of action. The question may be either a real question (seeking an answer from the hearers) or a rhetorical one (just wanting consideration, with no answer expected). It is typically not asking "What?" or "Who?", but rather "How?", "Whether?", or "Where?" ("Could or Should I?").  The use of the subjunctive is indicating some uncertainty about the answer.

b) As was stated earlier about the overlap in use between the subjunctive mood and the future indicative, the future indicative
can also be used to ask deliberative questions, but the subjunctive is more common.

c) It is usually translated into English using the future tense.

d) Real examples (rather than rhetorical):

    i) John 19:15
    "Shall I crucify your king?"
    "To;n basileva uJmw:n staurwvsw~"

    ii) Matthew 6:31
    "Therefore do not worry (be anxious), saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?"
    "mh; ou\n merimnhvshte levgonteV, Tiv favgwmen~ h[, Tiv pivwmen~ h[, Tiv peribalwvmeqa~"
     The subjunctive mood in this example indicates that those who would be asking these questions have some doubt as to whether food, drink, or clothing will be available.

e) Rhetorical examples:

    i) Mark 8:37
    "What can a person give in exchange for his (soul) life?"
    "tiv ga;r doi: a[nqrwpoV ajntavllagma th:V yuch:V aujtou:~"
    The subjunctive here implies that nothing would compensate for such a loss.

    ii) Romans 10:14
    "How can they hear without a preacher?"
    "pw:V de; ajkouvswsin cwri;V khruvssontoV~"
    Here the subjunctive implies that there is no way for them to hear without a preacher, but causes the audience to ponder (and thus is used to motivate).


 Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License.

Created by Corey Keating at: