Exercise 6.2 The subjunctive sentence form found in the complements
of mandative verbs in American English seems to be disappearing from the
language so you may not have stable intuitions about its use even if you
are a native speaker of the dialect. For those of us whose language is a
bit archaic, however, the subjunctive form is mandatory in this context.
The subjunctive seems to be a null modal rather than an empty tense marker
for at least the following reasons:
It is of interest that some dialects of English (standard British English, for example) have an overt modal in these contexts: "I required that he should arrive on time."
- There is no do-support when the complement is negative:
"They required that we (*do) not leave the room." If there were a zero tense
marker in these clauses, the presence of negation might block lowering and
- Complement clauses with be or auxiliary have do not
show raising over negation: "I requested that he not be allowed to stay." A zero tense should not block verb movement but a zero modal might.
- The sentences in (3) show that English expresses time differences between main clauses and subordinate complement clauses by varying the tense of each independently. With mandative verbs the complement verb can never vary:
"I asked that he drive, *drives, *drove, *will drive." The lack of variation in tense might result because the tense variation would show up on the modal, which being silent, can't vary in form.