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574. The subjunctive

 The subjunctive, as has been pointed out, becomes nearly extinct at an early period in the history of the language; there are left of it in classical usage only two relics: the use of its first persons in an imperative sense, or to signify a necessity or obligation resting on the speaker, or a peremptory intention on his part; and the use of unaugmented forms (579), with the negative particle मा mā́, in a prohibitive or negative imperative sense.

a. And the general value of the subjunctive from the beginning was what these relics would seem to indicate; its fundamental meaning is perhaps that of requisition, less peremptory than the imperative, more so than the optative. But this meaning is liable to the same modifications and transitions with that of the optative; and subjunctive and optative run closely parallel with one another in the oldest language in their use in independent clauses, and are hardly distinguishable in dependent. And instead of their being (as in Greek) both maintained in use, and endowed with nicer and more distinctive values, the subjunctive gradually disappears, and the optative assumes alone the offices formerly shared by both.