We use the subjunctive mood to talk about things that have not yet happened. The subjunctive mood is the verb form used to explore a hypothetical situation or non-real actions, events, or situations. It usually follows a wish, a demand or a suggestion. It is the opposite of the indicative mood, which is used to express factual, non-hypothetical information.
Questions in the subjunctive mood are pretty powerful, because they allow us to use past experience and relate it to hypothetical situations. We are therefore using our higher order thinking skills when we answer a question in the subjunctive mood. We can therefore get an idea on what our students are thinking about and what they have learned before. Let's look at some examples.
1. If you were one hundred years old, what would you do for your birthday?
Even though there are an infinite number of ways someone can answer this, but a simple way to answer it would be:
I would travel the whole world over.
Why? So I could get a souvenir from each continent.
2. If you were an athlete, what type of athlete would you be?
This question can also be answered in numerous ways. You can get an idea about what types of athletes someone already knows as well as the athletes they are interested in. One possible answer would be:
I would be basketball player.
Why? So I can occasionally jump high up in the air and dunk the ball into the basket!
3. If you had a ship, what would you do?
This is also a rather open-ended question as far as things you can do with the ship. You can use it as a house, a hospital, an office, a farm, a cruise ship or many other things. It can be answered with:
I would travel from sea to shining sea!
Why? So I could explore the unknown.
4. If you were a chef, what would you do?
Now this question, even though open to different answers, is a little more restrictive in that there few things that a chef does. So if someone answers it without mentioning that a chef cooks food, then you might possibly want to correct them.
A possible answer could be:
I would cook the most delicious food out there!
Why? So I could feed all the hungry people out there.
It's your turn. Take some time to ask yourself some hypothetical questions and see what answers you can come up with. I'll start it for you. If you were a mountain climber, what would you do? Why? When answering these questions, you might surprise yourself at how much English you already know.
If you need someone to help you in practicing or learning English, feel free to book a class with me. If you want a specific hour and it is unavailable, then send me a message and we can work something out.