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Thread: syntax

  1. #1
    JULIAMAY2 is offline Newbie
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    Default syntax

    Is it correct to say "It is unfair (that) citizens not be able to afford..."?
    In other words can we use the subjunctive like we do with the expression "it's essential"?

    Thank you in advance!

  2. #2
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: syntax

    Quote Originally Posted by JULIAMAY2 View Post
    Is it correct to say "It is unfair (that) citizens not be able to afford..."?
    In other words can we use the subjunctive like we do with the expression "it's essential"?

    Thank you in advance!
    You should always follow "it is unfair" with "that", and the same applies to "it's essential".

    In your original sentence, please note that it should read "It is unfair that (some) citizens cannot afford......"

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    corum is offline Banned
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    Default Re: syntax

    Quote Originally Posted by JULIAMAY2 View Post
    Is it correct to say "It is unfair (that) citizens not be able to afford..."?
    In other words can we use the subjunctive like we do with the expression "it's essential"?

    Thank you in advance!
    The true subject is the extraposed that-clause:
    "(that) citizens not be able to afford..."

    "(that) citizens not be able to afford..." ≠ adjective complement

    You need 'that' and you need a tensed verb

    It is unfair that citizens can't/are not able to...

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    JULIAMAY2 is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: syntax

    I see.But what about the verb form after the expression "it's unfair". Shouldn't we put a bare infinitive like in the sentence "It's essential that he go to the doctor."

    And another thing...Can't we omit "that" in the subjunctive after the verbs "suggest","propose","recommend" etc.?

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    corum is offline Banned
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    Default Re: syntax

    Quote Originally Posted by JULIAMAY2 View Post
    "It's essential that he go to the doctor."
    A bare infinitive is tenseless; all verbs in subjunctive mood carry tense. The subordinate clause is in subjunctive mood. Consequently, 'go' is not a bare infinitive in the sentence.

    We go home. -- Is go a bare infinitive here? I hope you say: no. Looks like one but it is not.

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    JULIAMAY2 is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: syntax

    Yes,you've got a point.However,grammar books (in the chapter of the subordinate) say that the syntax is:suggest,propose,recommend,it's vital etc.+(that)+noun+bare infinitive.

    "It's important that you be there."
    I insist/.suggest/recommend that he (should) go there alone"
    Besides after should we always use bare infinitive and I know it's used more frequently in British English.

    So why not say "it's unfair that citizens not be able to afford..." since we can say "The boss insisted that she not be at the meeting."

    I'm a little bit confused...

  7. #7
    philo2009 is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: syntax

    Your confusion is understandable, and the writer of any grammar book who calls 'go' in a sentence such as

    It is vital that she go to bed early.


    a 'bare infinitive' ought to be shot!

    'Go' is here, as a previous contributor has commented, a form of the subjunctive mood, NOT an infinitive of any kind (bare or otherwise).

    However, to return to your original question: in contrast with expressions such as 'It is vital/essential/important that...', the subjunctive after 'It is unfair that...' is, I would say - while not inconceivable - relatively uncommon. Either the indicative or the should-form would be the normal constructions, the former where the event or condition referred to is openly admitted as a fact, and the latter where it is simply conceived of as a possibility.

    Thus,

    It is unfair that nonresidents are not allowed to vote.

    (that they cannot do so is an undisputed fact).

    or

    It is unfair that Peter should be paid more than Paul for doing the same job.

    (more likely in a situation where this is not actually happening, but merely a proposal or theoretical possibility).

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    JULIAMAY2 is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: syntax

    Thanks a lot!!!

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