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Article

Subjunctive complement clauses in Russian

Russian linguistics. 2012. Vol. 36. No. 2. P. 121-156.

In many languages of the world, the forms in the irrealis domain (subjunctive, conjunctive, conditional) are also used in complement clauses. The set of verbs that require subjunctive complementation is similar but not identical across languages. The paper identifies Russian verbs licensing subjunctive in complement clauses, either as the only option or as an alternative to the indicative. Basing on the Russian National Corpus, a list of these predicates is compiled, with relative frequencies of subjunctive vs. indicative for each predicate. The main result of the study is distinguishing two types of subjunctive complement clauses. Most predicates belong to the group which is similar to purpose clauses with чтобы, both semantically and syntactically. The subject of the main predicate is involved in the situation described by the subordinate clause by wishing it to be realized, by intention, or causal relations. The second, minor group includes epistemic uses of чтобы with e.g. сомневаться and other predicates in the context of negation, interrogation and other constructions expressing low probability.