insist that he resign (Subjunctive)

JTR

Member
Spanish
Hi.

Are these all in the subjunctive mood?

1. I insist that he resign
2. I insisted that the resign.
3. I insisted that he resigned.
4. I would insist that he resign.
5. I would have insisted that he resign.
6. I will insist that he resign.

Does the use of “that” automatically place resign in the subjunctive mood regardless of the tense/form of the verb in the main clause (insist)? I think in every case the verb “insist” acts as time reference and “that” governs the subjunctive.

So, I say they are all subjunctive.
But I’m not really sure…
I’m particularly troubled by No. 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. Can you use the subjunctive in the past tense (insisted) and with the use of auxiliaries (would, would have, will)? My grammar book only deals with subjunctive in the present time.
I insist that he resign.

Thank you
 
  • Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Sorry, I'm not a grammarian so can't help with the subjunctive. I can tell you, however, that 3. is not grammatically correct. "Insisted" is fine in that sentence - "resigned" is not.
     

    dermott

    Senior Member
    B.E. via Australian English
    Hi.

    Are these all in the subjunctive mood?

    1. I insist that he resign
    2. I insisted that the resign.
    3. I insisted that he resigned.
    4. I would insist that he resign.
    5. I would have insisted that he resign.
    6. I will insist that he resign.

    Does the use of “that” automatically place resign in the subjunctive mood regardless of the tense/form of the verb in the main clause (insist)? I think in every case the verb “insist” acts as time reference and “that” governs the subjunctive.

    So, I say they are all subjunctive.
    But I’m not really sure…
    I’m particularly troubled by No. 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. Can you use the subjunctive in the past tense (insisted) and with the use of auxiliaries (would, would have, will)? My grammar book only deals with subjunctive in the present time.
    I insist that he resign.

    Thank you

    That's the mandative subjunctive, where you issue requests or demands. The verb in the subjunctive mood is "resign", not "insist". In this case, regardless of the tense of "insist", "resign" is always the present subjunctive form. So (3) should read: "I insisted that he resign".
     
    Last edited:

    Wilma_Sweden

    Senior Member
    Swedish (Scania)
    Does the use of “that” automatically place resign in the subjunctive mood regardless of the tense/form of the verb in the main clause (insist)? I think in every case the verb “insist” acts as time reference and “that” governs the subjunctive.
    Just to make it absolutely clear: this is also known as mandative subjunctive, because it is a type of command. It is not the use of 'that' which generates the subjunctive mood, but the verb 'insist'.

    The verb 'insist' does not act as a time reference, it simply suggests that someone expresses a kind of command, in any tense, which is followed by a subclause with the pattern {'that' + verb in the present subjunctive form}.

    Only certain command expressions generate the present subjunctive, such as the verbs propose, insist, mandate, suggest, or expressions such as it is imperative/important/necessary. Examples:

    It is imperative that the letter be sent today.
    They proposed that he resign.

    If I remember correctly, command expressions of this kind normally generate the subjunctive in Spanish, too, although much more frequently.
     

    JTR

    Member
    Spanish
    Thank you both for your explanations.

    Is it correct to use the subjunctive in a subordinate clause that starts with "although"?

    Although I insist that he resign,

    Does the use of "although" (or "even if," "even though") change in any way the rule saying that verbs of demand or suggestion trigger the subjunctive in the "that" clause? Or is a phrase like this odd in english?

    Thank you again
     

    Æsop

    Banned
    English--American (upstate NY)
    "I insisted that he resigned" is a possible English sentence, but the second verb is not in any kind of subjunctive. If there was a dispute about "his" departure from his job, the following sentence is quite possible: "My colleagues said he was fired, but I insisted that he resigned." "was fired" and "resigned" would be better in the past perfect--"My colleagues said he had been fired, but I insisted that he had resigned," but ". . . was fired . . . resigned" makes sense and is readily understandable.

    I'm not offhand sure whether English doesn't have separate present, past, and future subjunctive forms, or the present is used whenever the command and its execution occur at the same time, but the correct use of the mandative subjunctive is—
    Insisting and resignation both occurred in past: "I insisted that he resign."
    Both in present: "I am insisting that he resign" or "I insist that he resign."
    Both in future: "I will insist that he resign."
     

    dermott

    Senior Member
    B.E. via Australian English
    Thank you both for your explanations.

    Is it correct to use the subjunctive in a subordinate clause that starts with "although"?

    Although I insist that he resign,

    Does the use of "although" (or "even if," "even though") change in any way the rule saying that verbs of demand or suggestion trigger the subjunctive in the "that" clause? Or is a phrase like this odd in english?

    Thank you again

    Yes, even if you start with "although", you still use the subjunctive. It's the verb "to insist" that triggers the subjunctive.

    "Although I insist that he resign"

    "Even if I insist that he resign"

    Out of interest, there are quite a few other verbs that also trigger the mandative subjunctive - "to recommend", "to suggest", and so on.

    "I recommend that he be promoted"

    "I suggested that she be promoted"

    The important thing to remember with the mandative subjunctive is that it's always the present subjunctive, regardless of the tense of the trigger verb.
     

    Wilma_Sweden

    Senior Member
    Swedish (Scania)
    "I insisted that he resigned" is a possible English sentence, but the second verb is not in any kind of subjunctive. If there was a dispute about "his" departure from his job, the following sentence is quite possible: "My colleagues said he was fired, but I insisted that he resigned." "was fired" and "resigned" would be better in the past perfect--"My colleagues said he had been fired, but I insisted that he had resigned," but ". . . was fired . . . resigned" makes sense and is readily understandable.
    I would say that in this case, it would be wrong to use the subjunctive, as the subjunctive would be understood as a command, while your example is a mere factual statement.

    Although, even if, and even though are subjunctive triggers in Spanish by introducing a 'counterfactual' statement, but not in English. Having said that, some counterfactual statements in English would trigger the past subjunctive, but that's not what this thread is about.

    /Wilma
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    These all sound fine to me:
    1. I insist that he resign. 2. I insist that he resigns.
    1. I insisted that he resign. 2. I insisted that he resigned.
    1. I will insist that he resign. 2. I will insist that he resigns.
    1. I would insist that he resign. 2. I would insist that he resigned.

    In each case, resign (option 1) feels to me more hypothetical, and resigns / resigned (option 2) feels more concrete. I would say, then, that, as I use insist that, it is sometimes followed by indicative and sometimes by subjunctive: in forms 1. resign is subjunctive; in forms 2. resign is indicative.
     
    Last edited:
    These all sound fine to me:
    2. I insist that he resigns.
    2. I insisted that he resigned.
    2. I will insist that he resigns.
    2. I would insist that he resigned.

    In each case, resign (option 1) feels to me more hypothetical, and resigns / resigned (option 2) feels more concrete. I would say, then, that, as I use insist that, it is sometimes followed by indicative and sometimes by subjunctive: in forms 1. resign is subjunctive; in forms 2. resign is indicative.

    As I was taught, using "s" or "d/ed" at the end of a verb indicates that the construction is not a subjunctive any longer. I have not heard of the term "indicative" so far, as well as I have not seen such sentences as

    2. I insist that he resigns. 2. I insisted that he resigned. 2. I will insist that he resigns. 2. I would insist that he resigned.

    because I am more used to either eliminating "s" and/or "d/ed" at the end or using gerund forms ("I insist on him/his resigning"). Besides, the most complete version of the subjunctive sentence is:

    "I insist that he should resign".

    In some threads, though, there have been heating discussions regarding the usage of "should" with some verbs which allow the subjunctive. This observation mainly concerns "agree" and "advise". Nevertheless, this general form makes it clear why the verb is "resign" but not "resigns" since "should" will not work in the latter case.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    This is an issue on which there appears to be a difference between AmE and BrE. Standard AmE prefers the subjunctive with these verbs; BrE apparently does not. On this thread Teddy offers the BrE point of view as I understand it.

    This difference between BrE and AmE has been discussed in previous threads as well. Here is one of them:
    demand/request/suggest that SV [bare infinitive] (What is described in the title as the "bare infinitive" actually refers to the subjunctive.)​
     
    Last edited:

    dermott

    Senior Member
    B.E. via Australian English
    It seems to be a case of preference, or even, perhaps, what was taught at school. While this form does seem common in AmE, I hear BrE speakers use it. In Australian English, which follows (or followed BrE), you hear it amongst those who (a) were taught it; (b) remember it; and (c) were taught it, remember it, and can be bothered using it. Personally, I like it. It has a ring to it.
     
    Top