Subjunctive(?): not critical that

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Mar 22 20:19:31 UTC 2008

At 12:36 PM -0700 3/22/08, JAMES A. LANDAU Netscape. Just the Net You
Need. wrote:
>Various ADS-L members have contributed the following to this thread:
>>   > A practical reason for retaining the subjunctive is the fact that
>>   > other languages have it or an equivalent. These foreign subjunctives
>>   > are difficult to grasp, even when you're an active user of the English
>>   > subjunctive, which itself can be difficult to grasp, as this thread
>>   > shows.
>>  So if using the English subjunctive doesn't help with foreign subjunctives,
>>   then what is the practical reason for retaining the English subjunctive?
>>Well, to keep sentences like the following from falling together:
>>      She insists that he take his medicine.
>  >     She insists that he takes his medicine.
Note, too, that with negative complements there's a more salient distinction:

She insists that he not take his medicine
She insists that he does not take his medicine.

This helps show that the difference in the first pair isn't really
between "plural" and "singular" agreement, as has been claimed
earlier in this thread, but between a non-finite/non-agreeing
complement and a finite/agreeing complement.  (Of course for speakers
who neutralize the mood distinction, the last sentence will do double


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