Would it were otherwise

Josh Spokesgay and I share an attachment to the subjunctive. This attachment is, I believe, more than merely aesthetic. There are reasons to use it, and to prefer that its use be available.

See what I did there?

It’s true that the basic meaning is usually clear enough even without it, but it’s also true that a nuance is lost.

The indicative is for talking about things as they are. The subjunctive is for talking about things that are not, but that might have been, or that we wish had been, or were.

This neatly clarifies for me why I’m so attached to the mood. There are so many things I wish were not as they are, but otherwise.

Wraps, for instance. I wish wraps didn’t have a whole superfluous layer of clothy damp tortilla between me and the filling; I wish wraps had one layer of wrap instead of two or three.

But wraps are only the beginning.


  1. says

    Instead of bringing along my own perfectly sized tortilla, I tear off at least a third (it looks more like half) of the tortilla presented, but the foolishness always irks me. What is all this FOR?

    The world is so full of foolishness; if only it were not.

  2. chigau (違う) says

    I hate sandwiches in all their manifestations.
    I’d rather eat the chicken salad with a fork and have the tortilla available if I want it.

  3. Al Dente says

    But the tortilla adds something or other to the wrap. If it weren’t for the tortilla there would be just ordinary naked chicken salad, which nobody* wants to eat sans wrap..

    *Except for a few weirdos.**

    **Or so I’m told.***

    ***Not that there’s anything wrong with that

  4. chigau (違う) says

    Extra wrap is better than WunderBread.
    But WunderBread makes better ammunition for peashooters.
    I’m looking at you Al Dente.

  5. Al Dente says

    Did I make an incorrect statement? Is there something wrong with wanting wrapless chicken salad?

    Plus I grew up on Wonder Bread. I even knew the code for the tags to ensure getting the freshest loaf:


    (The tags are in alphabetical order, that’s how to keep them straight.)

    But alas, I am now Wonder Breadless. I have been introduced to real breads and so Wonder Bread is off the menu.

  6. aziraphale says

    We are gradually losing these useful distinctions.

    “I may have died in that accident.”

    No, since you are alive, that’s not true. You mean “I might have died in that accident.”

    ..but I think it may be a lost cause.

  7. chigau (違う) says

    Al Dente
    Did you ever have this?
    remove crust from a slice of wonderbread
    flatten bread with a rolling pin
    spread a layer of cheezwhiz on bread
    put an asparagus spear on one edge
    roll it up
    can be sliced into canapes

    60s Kraft TV commercials were so cool.
    Miracle Whip rules!

  8. cactuswren says

    In the first person, simply “shall” foretells;
    In “will” a threat, or else a promise, dwells.
    In third or second person “shall” does threat;
    “Will” simply then foretells a future feat.

    I enjoy knowing the difference between whither/hither/thither and whence/hence/thence.

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