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Why do you say 'God bless you' and not 'God blesses you?


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August 14, 2012 11:43PM

The reason is that when you say "God bless you" you're actually using something called the subjunctive mood. This is a grammatical construct used to express a possibility, wish, or opinion. In English it was more common in olden days, but it's still ubiquitous in other European languages, such as French or Portuguese.

American history provides an excellent example of the use of the subjunctive in Patrick Henry's famous utterance: "If this be treason, make the most of it." Notice that he didn't say, "if this is treason". Other examples of the subjunctive in English would be "God save the queen", instead of "God saves the queen", and also many phrases starting with "may", such as, "may you be happy" or "may she live a long life".