Sentences like "Let such and such be done" or "May this happen". What is the name of this construct?

More examples from Spanish:

  • Que ellos entren ahora (Let them in now).
  • Que se muerte les satisfagan (May his death satisfy you (pl.))

1 Answer 1


This is called the optative mood (though Romance languages like Spanish and French use what is morphologically the subjunctive in this role).

  • Also the benedictive mood, in Sanskrit. The example given in Wikipedia is May the Force be with you.
    – jlawler
    Apr 24, 2019 at 23:28
  • @jlawler Is the Let construction also optative/benefactive, or is it just an imperative? Apr 25, 2019 at 10:27
  • @Araucaria That's usually called a jussive or sometimes a hortative.
    – Miztli
    Apr 25, 2019 at 11:40
  • You pays your attention and you takes your choice. It depends, really, on the terminology you and your audience are most familiar with, and also on the language families and linguistic theories you want to evoke (if not necessarily use or cite).
    – jlawler
    Apr 25, 2019 at 15:28
  • I'd say that "May this happen" is an optative, but "Let such and such be done" looks like an 'open' let-imperative -- open in the sense that it is not understood as a directive to the addressee(s) to allow or permit something to happen.
    – BillJ
    Apr 27, 2019 at 13:35

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