... had asked that he be buried...

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Kathy Nguyen

Senior Member
Vietnam
I came across an odd grammar structure in an excerpt from "A Thousand Splendid Suns" written by Khaled Hosseini
"Jalil was busy telling her that Kabul was so beautiful, the Moghul emperor Babur had asked that he be buried there. Next, Mariam knew, he'd go on about Kabul's gardens, and its shops, its trees, and its air, before long, she would be on the bus and he would walk alongside it, waving cheerfully, unscathed, spared."

In the clause "the Moghul emperor Babur had asked that he be buried there", why is the subject "he" followed by an infinitive (which is "be" if I'm not mistaken)? Should the clause be re-written into "the Mogul emperor Babur had asked to be buried there" to sound more natural? If not, so what is the difference between two versions?
Thank you so much for helping!
 
  • DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    No: the "be" isn't an infinitive, it's the present subjunctive. That construction "... had asked that he be buried there" is quite correct, but isn't used much in BE these days except in formal writing.

    As you say, "... had asked to be buried there" is a more common way of expressing the idea nowadays. :)
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    You're right, "the Mogul emperor Babur had asked to be buried there" is indeed natural. The original 'that he be buried 'is, I think, an example of the subjunctive.

    I'll leave it to a grammarian to explain more about subjunctives . . .
     
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