The subjunctive is a special kind of present tense which has no –s in the third person singular. In a formal style, it is sometimes used in that-clauses after words which express the idea that something is important or desirable (e.g. suggest, recommend, ask, insist, vital, essential, important, advice). The same forms are used in both present and past sentences.
- I suggest that she refuse the offer.
- I insist that they be freed.
- It is essential that every child have the same educational opportunities.
- They are demanding that she reveal her sources.
- It is important that he be informed immediately.
The subjunctive often causes misunderstanding. To avoid this British speakers sometimes insert the modal should.
- I suggest that she should refuse the offer.
- I insist that they should be freed.