We doubt whether it be possible to mention a state which on the whole has been a gainer by a breach of faith. ib., (5206). (I) have not used my power: | Nor know I whether I be very base | Or very manful. Ten», Mar. of O er., 468. The controversy as to whether ceiibacy or wedlock 6e the happier state is a very old one, perhaps as oid as what may be called the previous question — whether life itself öe worth living. E.J.Hardy, H o w t o b e happy t h o u g h m a r r i e d, Ch. II, 19. T. He feels if the axe be sharp. I know not whether it be true or not. Sweet, N. E. O r, § 2273. ii. The blowing of the horn ... made me hesitatingly inquire... if there were anything to pay. Dick., C o p, Ch. V, 35a. Even those who had often seen him were at first in doubt whether this were truly the bril Mant and graceful Monmouth. Mac, Hist, II, Ch. V, 185. T.
That's just the answer Tertius gave me, when I first asked him if she were handsome. G. Eliot, Mid, V, Ch. XLIII, 321. After he had made all things ready, he was visited with a doubt whether he were not mistaking her. id. Dan. Der, III, VI, Ch. XLVII, 50.
(Esther) trembled like one grown suddenly cold. She did not know whether it were with pleasure or fear. Max Pemb, Doet. X a v, Ch. IX, 48a.
b) Instances of the subjunctive in subordinate questions opening with interrogative adverbs or pronouns appear to be rare.
Take care how thou reach it (sc. the castle) before me. Lytton R i e n z i, III, Ch. II, 127.
A wise horseman should, in such a case, take care how he pull the rein. ib, II, Ch. III, 90.
Ah, Christ, that It were possible | For one short hour to see | The souls we loved, that they might teil us I What and where they 6e. Ten, M a u d, II, IV, III.
Obs. I. There are no periphrastic equivalents for the inflectional subjunctive in subordinate- questions.
II. In ordinary spoken English the indicative as a neutral mood (1, a) is used with no, or hardly any, exception. You won't know whether the frosty wind is hot or cold. Miss Braddon, My First Happy Cbristm. (Stof, Handl, I.)
III. In such sentences as the following might is applied in no other way than it is in Might not an answer have arrived?, i. e. although marking uncertainty on the part of the speaker and, consequently, distinctly modal, it is not employed as a substitute for modal inflection.