the government requests that he does not leave the county

JungKim

Senior Member
Korean
There's this line from the movie, 'Transformers: The Last Knight':
Lawyer: [on Nitro Zeus] But the government requests that he does not leave the county. And we're serious about that.
From her accent the lawyer sounds like an American. Then shouldn't the first sentence be like either of these?
But the government requests that he not leave the county.
But the government requests that he should not leave the county.


Because as far as I know, only Brits would use the present tense (does not leave) here.
 
  • icecreamsoldier

    Senior Member
    New Zealand English
    But the government requests that he not leave the county.
    As much as I love the subjunctive, it's a bit formal for a movie like Transformers! Keeping in mind that this is spoken language, is it possible that the "does" is just there to make it sound better, and possibly to give emphasis? I would listen to it again and try to decide which word his given emphasis in the sentence; if "does" is louder or higher, it's likely that's why it's there.
    But the government requests that he should not leave the county.
    To me the meaning is less forceful than "does", but I can't say what an American would say.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    And in BrE, you'd probably get '... Her Majesty's government request that ...' (government treated as a collective noun) - and you can have the verb in the present tense, or with a modal, or in the subjunctive.
     

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    As much as I love the subjunctive, it's a bit formal for a movie like Transformers! Keeping in mind that this is spoken language, is it possible that the "does" is just there to make it sound better, and possibly to give emphasis? I would listen to it again and try to decide which word his given emphasis in the sentence; if "does" is louder or higher, it's likely that's why it's there.
    Nope. She doesn't emphasize 'does'. The emphasis is on 'not' as in a typical negative sentence.

    I respectfully disagree that the subjunctive is a bit formal for this scene. Although this line is in a sci-fi movie, the setting in which the line is spoken is not so informal. The lawyer is not saying this line with some friends of hers in an informal setting. She's saying this line directly to Colonel William Lennox to assist him with his negotiation with Megatron. And it's a very important negotiation for the human race.

    Moreover, for what it's worth, I've never seen or heard an American use a present tense in these types of sentences. Not even in a sit-com or more relaxed situation.

    To me the meaning is less forceful than "does", but I can't say what an American would say.
    I'd like to wait for an American to weigh in on this.
     

    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    I wouldn't make a sweeping statement as to what Americans or British say or should say. These express the same basic idea:

    (a) But the government requests that he does not leave the country
    (b) But the government requests that he not leave the country
    (c) But the government requests that he should not leave the country

    Linguistically, "requests" needs a that-clause as complement. In (a), we have a tensed that-clause, which is what normally happens with that-clauses; (b) and (c) are simply untensed versions of what is usually a tensed that-clause. Either way, tensed or untensed, the that-clause functions as direct object and fulfills the transitivity of the verb "requests."

    The choice of (a), (b), or (c) is stylistic, subjective, which means that it's up to the speaker (or, in this case, the writer of the movie). To me, (a) feels more conversational and less formal, but I haven't seen the movie, so I couldn't say if that's how (a) comes across in speech.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Moreover, for what it's worth, I've never seen or heard an American use a present tense in these types of sentences. Not even in a sit-com or more relaxed situation.
    I agree with you. I would always use the subjunctive in this case, whether in a formal or informal setting. It sounds 'natural' to me because it is the structure I grew up with.
     

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    I agree with you. I would always use the subjunctive in this case, whether in a formal or informal setting. It sounds 'natural' to me because it is the structure I grew up with.
    Thanks. And according to this earlier thread, I guess most American speakers would also agree with you and me, which makes me more curious about the usage in the OP.
     
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