Mr. Lee insisted that his son "tuck" his shirt into his pants.

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j29682896

Senior Member
chinese
Hi everyone

I saw a sentence as follows,
Mr. Lee insisted that his son "tuck" his shirt into his pants.

I'm wondering why is it not "tucked". The word "insisted" indicates that it's past tense. Can anyone help me? Thank you!
 
  • Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    The usual structure is to insist that someone do something. The "do" (or other verb, here "tuck") remains in its present form as the tense of "insist" changes. This works for all tenses:

    "Mr. Lee insists that his son finish his homework."

    "Mr. Lee insisted that his son tuck in his shirt."

    "Mr. Lee will insist that his son finish his dinner."

    "Before April 15, Mr. Lee had insisted that his son wear warm clothing."

    And so on.

    I'm glad I'm not Mr. Lee's son. :)
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Mr. Lee insisted that his son tuck his shirt into his pants. (present tense)

    Mr. Lee insisted that his son should have tucked his shirt into his pants.
    (past tense)
     

    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    Hi j29682896, "tuck" in your sentence is an example of the use of the English subjunctive mood, which is gradually falling out of use. As explained here (source: englishpage.com), it is used after the following verbs: to advise (that), to ask (that), to command (that), to demand (that), to desire (that), to insist (that), to propose (that), to recommend (that),
    to request (that), to suggest (that), to urge (that)
    and others.

    Interestingly it is still used more in AE than in BE, and in this kind of context, there are often ways of avoiding it.

    Note too (from the same linked page) "After many of the above expressions, the word "should" is sometimes used to express the idea of subjunctiveness. This form is used more frequently in British English and is most common after the verbs "suggest," "recommend" and "insist."

    So in BE we could also say "... insisted that his son should tuck ... into his trousers."
     

    j29682896

    Senior Member
    chinese
    Thank you for your replies!

    Does it also work on other verbs? Such as,
    Mr. Lee said that his son go to school.
    Mr. Lee told us that his son like to play basketball.
    Mr. Lee guessed that his son tuck his shirt into his pants.
    Mr. Lee believed that his son tuck his shirt into his pants.

    And does it also work on negative sentences?
    Mr. Lee guessed that his son don't tuck his shirt into his pants.
    Mr. Lee insisted that his son don't tuck his shirt into his pants.
    Mr. Lee believed that his son don't tuck his shirt into his pants.


    Thank you!
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Hi j29682896, "tuck" in your sentence is an example of the use of the English subjunctive mood, which is gradually falling out of use. As explained here (source: englishpage.com), it is used after the following verbs: to advise (that), to ask (that), to command (that), to demand (that), to desire (that), to insist (that), to propose (that), to recommend (that),
    to request (that), to suggest (that), to urge (that)
    and others.

    Interestingly it is still used more in AE than in BE, and in this kind of context, there are often ways of avoiding it.

    Note too (from the same linked page) "After many of the above expressions, the word "should" is sometimes used to express the idea of subjunctiveness. This form is used more frequently in British English and is most common after the verbs "suggest," "recommend" and "insist."

    So in BE we could also say "... insisted that his son should tuck ... into his trousers."
    In AE in the past tense we say "should have tucked in..."
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Thank you for your replies!

    Does it also work on other verbs? Such as,
    Mr. Lee said that his son go to school.
    Mr. Lee told us that his son like to play basketball.
    Mr. Lee guessed that his son tuck his shirt into his pants.
    Mr. Lee believed that his son tuck his shirt into his pants.
    None of those work, because none of those are subjunctive mood.

    However, If Mr. Lee had been talking to his son, rather than about his son, you might have these uses of the subjunctive:
    Mr Lee requires that his son go to school.
    Mr. Lee suggested that his son tuck his shirt into his pants.
    (Note: British speakers would say "trousers".)

    A negative sentence:
    Mr. Lee ordered that his son not play basketball.
     

    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    No, it doesn't work for any of the additional sentences you quoted. "Subjunctiveness" usually contains the notion that the action of the verb hasn't happened, and with the list of verbs above, the speaker wants the action to happen, but it hasn't, because his son hasn't tucked his shirt. Believe, guess, say and tell all indicate that the action is a fact and has happened (and they aren't in the list ;)).

    Mr. Lee insisted that his son don't tuck his shirt into his pants. :cross:
    Mr. Lee insisted that his son should not tuck his shirt into his pants. (normal in BE)
    Mr. Lee insisted that his son not tuck his shirt into his pants. (more formal)

    It can be avoided by saying: Mr Lee told his son that he should not tuck his shirt .." and that sounds the most idiomatic in conversation.

    There's another useful page here: (source: BBC Learning English)
     
    Last edited:

    j29682896

    Senior Member
    chinese
    Thank you very much for your links, Enquiring Mind.

    I went to BBC learning English and I saw sentences as follows
    Everybody recommended that she should continue with her education for 3 more years.
    Everybody recommended that she continued with her education for 3 more years.
    Everybody recommended that she continue with her education for 3 more years.
    Even her granny recommends that she continues with her education for 3 more years.


    In this link ENGLISH PAGE - Subjunctive
    all the verb are in its original form, such as, Everybody recommended that she continue with her education for 3 more years.

    In BBC learning English Learning English | BBC World Service

    I saw these sentences with past tense and third person singular form.
    Everybody recommended that she continued with her education for 3 more years.
    Even her granny recommends that she continues with her education for 3 more years.


    Can anyone help? Thank you!
     

    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    Hi again j2. Recommend doesn't have to be followed by a subjunctive verb. You can also use (what looks like) an indicative verb as in your example Everybody recommended that she continued with her education for 3 more years. However AE speakers are less likely to consider this use of (what looks like) the indicative acceptable. There's further discussion of this here ("recommend that + indicative clause?", source: usingenglish.com).

    In fact, we don't even know if the verb is indicative or subjunctive, because the past tense of the subjunctive mood takes the same form as the simple past indicative, except in the case of the verb "to be".
     
    Last edited:

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    1a. Mr. Lee insisted that his son tuck his shirt into his pants.
    1b. Mr. Lee insisted that his son tucked his shirt into his pants.

    Sentences 1a and 1b can mean the same thing, i.e. he required his son to tuck his shirt in.
    But 1b can also mean something entirely different, i.e. he said emphatically that his son tucked his shirt in.
     
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