Russian subjunctive as habitual.

2016. №4, 18-34

Nina R. Dobrushina
National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, 101000, Russian Federation;


This study considers the use of the subjunctive in universal conditional concession (UCC) clauses of the type Kto by ni prishel, vsekh puskali (‘Whoever would come was admitted’). In these contexts, the use of the subjunctive cannot be explained by the irrealis component of its semantics, because it can be substituted with the indicative and apparently introduces real situations. A corpus analysis of this type of subordinate clauses suggests that here the subjunctive designates non-referential, habitual situations. The claim is supported by the evidence from the choice of aspect — in indicative UCC clauses, the predicate cannot be perfective whereas the use of the subjunctive removes this constraint.