Verbs may have 1 of 3 moods: (1) the indicative (the most common; used for ordinary objective statements), (2) the imperative (used for requesting or commanding), and (3) the subjunctive.
Subjunctive verbs cause the most difficulty; they are used primarily for expressing a wish (I wish it were possible), a supposition (If I were to accept the position… ), or a condition that is uncertain or contrary to fact (If that were true… ; If I were younger… ). The subjunctive occurs in fairly formal situations and usually involves past (were) or present (be) forms.
If we were to begin treatment immediately, the patient’s prognosis would be excellent.
The patient insisted that she be treated immediately.
Therefore, we determined whether there had been [not the subjunctive, were] deviation from the prescribed regimen.
We investigated whether the fracture had been [not the subjunctive, were] set incorrectly.