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Francesca
04-06-2003, 02:51 PM
I recently used the phrase "I would have been being sarcastic". Is that subjunctive? Optative? It's past tense, but what kind of past tense? I should know, but I have confused myself with future past indicative subjunctive participles.

pseudotriton ruber ruber
04-06-2003, 03:01 PM
Looks like conditional past tense to me. "would have" = conditional, "been" = past tense.

Francesca
04-06-2003, 03:06 PM
That makes sense. But does the conditional past tense use the subjunctive? I know this sounds poncey, but I'm only asking because I know that the conditional si in Latin takes the subjunctive and English grammar is supposed to be modelled on Latin (ha!).

Sutremaine
04-06-2003, 03:24 PM
Does anyone know of any sites where all this stuff is explained in terms which won't go straight over my head? I know how to use most of the English language, but nobody's ever told me how it really hangs.

psychonaut
04-06-2003, 03:57 PM
You're expressing conditional statement about a progressive action occuring in the past. Ergo past conditional progressive. There's nothing subjunctive about it. For the subjunctive you'd have to say something like, "Would that I had been eating!" (Depends on the context; the subjunctive in English is now largely confined to certain set constructions.)

Francesca
04-06-2003, 07:57 PM
Past conditional progressive. That makes sense. Thank you for your answer, psychonaut.

Sutremaine - this site (http://www.ucalgary.ca/UofC/eduweb/grammar/) is aimed at teaching basic grammar to college students and seems to be a good guide. Not patronising, but not too academic. It's always good to know what you're talking about ;)

brianmelendez
04-06-2003, 11:44 PM
Originally posted by Francesca
I recently used the phrase "I would have been being sarcastic". Is that subjunctive? Optative? It's past tense, but what kind of past tense? I should know, but I have confused myself with future past indicative subjunctive participles.
The tense is actually present perfect ("I have been"). It is neither the simple past ("I was"), the imperfect ("I used to be"), nor the past perfect ("I had been"), all of which can also express past time. The present perfect tense expresses a completed act, and can do so either in present time ("I have just said it") or past ("I have said it a thousand times").

The mood is technically indicative but, with the auxiliary verb would, can properly be called conditional (which some but not all authorities consider as a separate mood). The conditional form expresses many senses formerly expressed by the subjunctive mood, although the subjunctive form here would be " I had been being" (or, as psychonaut suggests, "[would that] I had been being").

The [i]mode is progressive ("have been being") rather than simple ("have been") or emphatic (which is characterized by the auxiliary verb do--"I say" (simple), "I am saying" (progressive), "I do say" (emphatic)--although the verb be generally does not appear in the emphatic mode).

The voice is active. (The verb be is always a linking verb, however, and so appears only in the active voice: there is no passive form.)

The person is the first person.

The number is singular.

Thus the verb in your expression is the first person singular, present perfect conditional form of the verb be.

Lobsang
04-07-2003, 12:08 AM
Originally posted by Francesca
I recently used the phrase "I would have been being sarcastic". Is that subjunctive? Optative? It's past tense, but what kind of past tense? I should know, but I have confused myself with future past indicative subjunctive participles.

I I am just plain confused.

brianmelendez
04-07-2003, 12:47 AM
Originally posted by Lobsang
I am just plain confused.
A verb in modern English is inflected for voice, mood, tense, mode, person, and number.

The voice can be active, passive, or reflexive (middle).

The mood can be infinitive (in which case the verb is not inflected for person or number), indicative, subjunctive, potential, or imperative. Some authorities identify other moods, such as apodictive and conditional.

The tense can be present, which includes the simple present and the present perfect; past, which includes the imperfect and the past perfect (pluperfect); or future, which includes the simple future and the future perfect.

The mode can be simple, progressive, or emphatic.

The person can be first, second, or third.

The number can be singular or plural.

A verb form is "parsed" by identifying its infinitive root and the six ways (voice, mood, tense, mode, person, and number) in which that root has been inflected, which pinpoints a unique form among the literally hundreds of forms that make up the verb's complete conjugation. Francesca was asking how the verb form in her OP was parsed.

Lobsang
04-07-2003, 12:57 AM
brianmelendez I wanted to be less confused.


Joking. Thanks for the explanation :)

Francesca
04-07-2003, 06:35 AM
Thank you for that marvellously comprehensive parsing brianmelendez. First person singular, present perfect conditional form of the verb be. It rolls off the tongue.