May the Force be with you, if you Try to Figure out the Subjunctive Mood

Que la Force soit avec vous.

This is a phrase I’ve heard a lot lately, being the French translation of the classic Star Wars salutation/blessing May the Force be with you. This won’t be about Star Wars though, but rather the grammatical rabbithole that that curious little verb soit sent me down.

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Learning English with Yoda

…is not a good idea. But let’s see what we can do. Even if you’re not a big Star Wars fan (I quite like the original three and Rogue One, though I first saw the originals when I was 14, slightly too old for them to really have a nostalgic hold on me. The Force Awakens, the first new Star Wars film in 32 years, is OK, but a bit derivative), you probably know Yoda.

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Father’s Day

It’s Father’s Day today in many parts of the world. I hope you’re being well treated if you’re one of the men honoured by the day. You really never can have too many pairs of socks. Like Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, it’s quite an artificial day, but I don’t mind too much really, as sometimes maybe we need a little push to be grateful. Or to at least express our gratitude.

The word father, like mother, isn’t one we actually use all that much of course, instead preferring works like dad, pop, papa et al. These words, like so many of our words to refer to our mothers, are derived from our first babblings as a child.

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Worst. Sentence. Ever!

If they wouldn’t have been released, I don’t know when I would have ended up seeing Star Wars, and if I wouldn’t have seen Star Wars when I did, I don’t think my life and career would be what it is now.

Yeesh, just look at that. Ok, maybe it’s not necessarily the worst sentence ever, but it’s an unwieldy beast to say the least. A little context: I came across this in an online article about the theatrical release of the “Special Editions” of the Star Wars films in 1997, and this sentence was a quote from someone asked about the impact the films had on her.

And that person chose to use a hypothetical situation, therefore all-but ensuring the presence of an if and a would, and making the sentence a little complex. Fair enough, but still! It’s longer that it need be. And look at all those would‘s. Every time I read it, knowing the meaning, it still has no rhythm to it at all. Really, just look at all those would‘s in there! Apart from how it reads in your head, there’s also the issue of meaning. The sentence gets so weighed down by the different conditions and outcomes contained within it that it’s hard to parse the intended meaning.

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Rebel Rebel

I’ve just realised that’s another one: rebel.

As in (to explain myself slightly), rebel with the first syllable emphasised, is a noun, and rebel (with the second syllable emphasised) is a verb. I think being exposed to so much about the new Star Wars film has made me notice that.

Anway, may the Force be with you.

Force, of course, is also a verb and a noun, but with it being monosyllabic, you don’t need to worry about its pronunciation.