Translation:My wife does not want my shirt to hang on the chair.
Is that actually dreadful English? It's true of course that the subjunctive is not used very often anymore in English, but has it really gotten to the point now that it is considered bad form? I don't mean to challenge you; I don't really know the answer and am just genuinely curious.
Yes, it is poor English sentence structure and not because of how English speakers feel about the subjunctive. "Want" usually doesn't require "that" afterwards to form the subjunctive mood. So you could say "She does not want my shirt hanging on the chair" or "She does not want my shirt to hang on the chair", but "She does not want that my shirt hang on the chair" is poor English.
However this is an example of why the subjunctive in English is tricky, even for native speakers, and why it is often avoided in regular speech.
Interesting, thank you. I'm not actually a native speaker of English, myself, so that might have something to do with my uncertainty. However, the examples you gave ("She does not want my shirt hanging on the chair" and "She does not want my shirt to hang on the chair"), while obviously proper English, are not examples of the subjunctive mood here, right? If I am correct about that, how, if at all, would one put this sentence in the subjunctive?
Um, yes and no. They can be considered in the subjunctive mood or they can be considered as replacing the subjunctive mood. The problem is if you ask 5 linguists about this, you will get 5 different answers. Some will say it is some form of indicative mood, some will say it is subjunctive, but for different reasons. This is due to how the subjunctive mood in English is still evolving in contemporary usage. There is some gray area and there are differences between American and British English, but one thing is certain: overall, with English syntax regarding the subjunctive, the pattern is a shift toward for clearer, simpler syntax, including using indicative constructions to express the subjunctive. For example, "Want" is a verb that in English syntax demands a lot of clarity regarding its object, so English speakers are more inclined to use more indicative constructions to express the subjunctive because traditionally, the syntax for the subjunctive mood in English is pretty messy by modern standards. To a native speaker, forcing the traditional construction for the subjunctive mood into a sentence with "want" feels like the object that is suppose to follow "want" has gotten lost.
For a native speaker, though, it is easier for them to intuit this because how they learned English is built around syntax that is still evolving and is tolerant of using indicative forms to express the subjunctive--and like I said, not even linguists are in agreement about what is happening here in terms of English's ongoing evolution--so it's admittedly a little difficult to really explain it to speakers of a language where the subjunctive mood is more much distinct.
(But if it makes you feel any better, native English speakers often are very confused and intimidated by the subjunctive in languages with stricter rules about this mood. We are at a real disadvantage because we often have a hard time seeing the subjunctive as a distinct and separate mood from the indicative.)
Thank you, that's very helpful :) I'll keep an eye out for how people think about and use the subjunctive mood in English, if at all. By the way, my native language of Dutch also doesn't really use the subjunctive mood, except in some archaic expressions/idioms. I guess I too am at a disadvantage, but that's alright—everyone is at a disadvantage about some things, I suppose, depending on their linguistic background.
That answer is also poor English. See my reply above for the explanation. Using "that" with "want΅ in English to make the subjunctive is a hypercorrection as best, and muddy syntax at worst. But this would not be the first time Duolingo accepted bad English for an answer. :\
Oh, I see. Yes, the imperative (command) form of verbs can sometimes be confusing since, in English, we often use a present, future, conditional, or even an infinitive form in its place. In Esperanto, the imperative tense isn't just used for explicit commands. It's used to express hopes, wants, wishes, or desires.
But I suspect what makes this sentence particularly confusing is that the verb is negated by the previous clause. Would the following be more understandable?
- Mia edzino _ volas, ke mia ĉemizo ne pendu sur la seĝo.