Translation:I think that it is time I return to work.
"I think that it is time I return to work" is the subjunctive tense in English. You don't need to put the verb "return" in the past tense. The preceding sentence expresses that idea.
The other option "I think (that) it is time for me to return to work" is, as in Portuguese, a way to avoid the subjunctive. Both are used.
I believe my second sentence is correct too. Perhaps these links will make that clearer:
Thanks for these links, Davu. The subjunctive tense (so discrete and almost hidden from our awareness) is perhaps an area where there is more divergence between British English and American English.
From my understanding, British English is more flexible in its approach to the subjunctive. My British English grammar books allow for "If I was" as the informal use of the subjunctive, but my US books don't.
The "bible" for ESL teachers of Am English is Betty Azar's Understanding and Using English Grammar. She points out the British are more likely to say: "The teacher insists that we SHOULD be on time" while Americans say: "The teacher insists that we BE on time." Azar states that the subjunctive tense is more commonly used in the States than in Britain. I don't know whether you agree with that or not. Times change, and so does language.
a) I think it is time that both of us faced the truth.
b) I think it is time that both of us face the truth.
The fact is that the subjunctive tense can be said to have no present, past or future - neither is it singular nor plural - in the subordinate clause.
It's important that she/you/we/they go to the doctor.
I insisted that he pay the money.
It was necessary that they be told the truth. (told= past participle).
It is time (that) we go.
It is time (that) we went.
My understanding (and I have certainly heard it being used) is that this is an exception to the subjunctive to express urgency, anger, frustration by the speaker. It is much like "It's high time ...."
Thank you for taking the time to explain things so carefully. I really hadn't appreciated that the subjunctive was used differently on the other side of the Atlantic. Obviously that explains why you find my second sentence lacking while I find it better than the first. At least we are both happy with the subjunctive-free third version.
All of these disputes about conditionals and subjunctives in english go way back. Usage is more flexible than the BBC world service thinks it is. If I remember correctly, there were more tenses in Anglo-saxon, which then all collapsed into the few woulds, weres, shoulds, shalls, and mights in modern english. Does English really have a nice logical subjunctive like the Romance languages?
the teacher insists we be on time the teacher insists that we be on time the teacher insists we should be on time the teacher insists that we should be on time the teacher insists that we are on time the teacher insists we are on time
I doubt any of these would turn heads among native speakers. I am sure I have heard them all in conversation.
Agreed except for:
the teacher insists that we are on time
the teacher insists we are on time
Those two sentences deal with reality - not an unrealized expectation as the sentences in the subjunctive do.
And you are right that language is flexible....but The New Yorker - one of the best written, most influential magazines in the US still has five different editors going through each sentence for both grammatical use or fact checking before an article goes into print. Precise language still matters.
I used to have abook by Fowler of Modern English Usage fame from 1906 or something called "the King;s English". If I remember correctly there were 6 nearly unreadable pages of dense grammatical argument describing how different shades of subjunctive in english derive from the richer variety in anglo-saxon. Modern discussions tend to elide matters, perhaps in the interests of sanity.
actually those two sentences mean that the teacher expects that now and in the future, the pupils will be on time. An unrealized expectation. As for magazine standards, you can find writers all over the web moaning about how those same fact checkers have introduced errors into their articles, the banality of house style etc. Don't all the articles in the new yorker seem a bit samey to you? But the reason I go on about this is I dread some poor ESL guy hearing "you can't do this/ you can't do that" in english, because it says so in Strunk and White or something. It just ain't so.
We will have to agree to disagree on those two sentences. I don't find New Yorker articles to be "samey" unless you mean that they are carefully written and vetted before publication.
Enjoy subjuntivo in portuguese. It's a lot more complicated than either French or Spanish. Bons estudos!
In Spanish there's a similar infinitive construction (creo que es hora de volver al trabajo). However, in Spanish you wouldn't use eu (yo) before the infinitive. You would use the subjunctive (creo que es hora de que yo vuelva al trabajo). Would you also use a subjunctive in Portuguese?