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This question is with reference to the question I recently asked about "request you to" vs. "request that you" and I closed it that the answer found satisfiable. And also I was convinced that "request you to" might be some specific usage belongs to India/Pakistan only and native English speaker would never accept that.

However, today when I was reading the book "Oxford Guide to English Grammar", I came across a definition with an example "I request you to leave the building". Refer below image.

enter image description here

So which definition is correct? Why I see different definitions everywhere. The book I mentioned above must be a global reference for English grammar, right? Then why it has some example which is not even accepted by the native English speakers?

Also I need to know why should we only use "that" with "request". I need some detailed definitions with credible sources to refer.

I'm totally confused now. Please help me. Thanks in advance.

Question update 1: This question is not just about Indian English. I believe that "request you to" is still widely used by different country peoples all over the world. I have seen numerous webpages & articles are still using that.

Also I agree that "request you to" usage is outdated in American english but I disagree that it is ungrammatical for other peoples just because they don't use it anymore.

Question update 2: As I have got enough explanation below in the comments and discussions that the usage is no longer valid in America. Now I want to know opinions about it from other country peoples. Please comment your opinions.

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    I would choose the side of Oxford Guide to Grammar. :-) – Ringo Dec 22 '17 at 5:47
  • His detailed comments and answer made me think that I'm wrong. Also some websites and forums added some meaning to that. – Raj 33 Dec 22 '17 at 5:57
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    OK, this IS confusing. These are common: I request you leave immediately and I order you to leave immediately. The to is important to the latter sentence. To leave in the FIRST sentence would be at least awkward, if not ungrammatical. I'm actually not sure. – Ringo Dec 22 '17 at 5:58
  • Also I heard that "to" infinitive should be only come after "request" when the sentence is in passive form i.e., "requested to". Otherwise one shouldn't use "to" with "request'. – Raj 33 Dec 22 '17 at 6:03
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I appreciate your raising this intriguing question that has some important implications for how or why a particular expression or construction is considered grammatical. Merriam-Webster dictionary clearly gives the example "requested her to write a paper" under the transitive verb definition of 'request' at https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/request (scroll down past the extensive 'noun' definition to read) so the form 'request someone to do something' is definitely grammatical from a technical perspective.

However, it is no longer a popular usage: according to google ngrams, the popularity of both "request you to" and "request that you" peaked around the year 1830 and declined steadily thereafter. As you rightly noted yourself, "request you to" enjoyed a brief resurgence peaking around 1970 but both expressions became progressively unpopular (rarely used) in the last quarter of the 20th century, indicating that such extremely formal language has lost favor in English all aroung the world, although "request that you" is marginally ahead at the turn of the millennium:

enter image description here

That is not to say that such expressions are equally outdated everywhere. Based on the answers to a number of related questions on ELU and ELL, typical patterns and frequency of use seem to differ between dialects such that "request someone to do something" is more common in Indian English and "request that someone do something" is more typically used in the USA.

The extensive explanations of senior member @tchrist both in comments here and in an updated answer on ELU present a convincing argument (supported by ngrams) that the construction "request someone to do something" has become obsolete in modern American English. As regards British English,

If you swap American for British you can see what's happened: it has not receded quite as much in British writers as it has in American ones. This might be because British don't use mandative subjunctive as much as we do [...] - tchrist see full comment here

If "grammatical" is defined as "the way native speakers are using the language now" then the extreme rarity of such usage in the case of 'request someone to do something' might well lead it to be considered ungrammatical by speakers of American English. Whereas the same form is so commonly and typically used in Indian English that as an Indian I find it extremely natural to the formal register, and unquestionably grammatical.


As a transitive verb, "request" can take an object in multiple ways.

(1) Ask for something:

She requested a room with a view.

The librarian requested perfect silence.

Here "request" literally means "ask for" in a formal/polite sense. Whatever is being asked for is the object of "request."

(2) Ask for something from someone:

May I request your attention.

He requested the students' attention.

Here somebody is being asked politely for something but the object of 'request' is still "attention."

(3) Ask someone to give you something:

"May I request you to give me your passport", the customs officer said. (Same basic meaning as "may I request your passport" but this is not really a request but a command, and 'may I' is used simply for politeness here. Based on user feedback in comments, most Americans would prefer "may I request that you show me your passport" as the most politely formal construction. )

He requested the students to give him their attention.

Here the object of 'request' is "students"; the students are being asked to give him something, and the object of 'give' is "attention." However, he is essentially asking for their attention and this is just another way of writing "He requested the students' attention."

(4) Ask someone to do something:

He requested the guests to leave their cars at the gate.

Here the object is 'the guests' and he is requesting them to do something. This can be rewritten in passive voice as

The guests were requested to leave their cars at the gate.

Whereas the alternative form "request that" sees 'request' used with the conjunction 'that' which connects it to the clause that follows:

He requested that the students give him their attention.

May I request that you bring your own dinner.

He requested that the guests leave their cars at the gate.

The host requested that cars be left at the gate.

Both these forms of 'request' are nicely described at Collins Dictionary online:

Request [verb]

  1. If you request something, you ask for it politely or formally.

Mr Dennis said he had requested access to a telephone.

She had requested that the door to her room be left open.

  1. If you request someone to do something, you politely or formally ask them to do it.

Students are requested to park at the rear of the Department.

They requested him to leave.

Source: https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/request

Note: both "may I" and "request" as used in these examples are politely formal ways of asking for something, or asking someone to do something. In this type of usage a question mark is not necessary even though the sentence begins with "may I."

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    I am Indian and it was intriguing that some senior ELU members considered 'request someone to do something' grammatically incorrect as native speakers. In fact it is grammatical but apparently far more common in Indian English than in the USA. – English Student Dec 22 '17 at 19:32
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    @Ringo Everyone speaks their own language: we call those idiolects. Everyone has one and no two are exactly the same. Dictionaries document what has been written down. They seldom if ever document which things that are written down strike some native speakers as ungrammatical; that is not the job of a dictionary. That's exactly like the error of thinking that not finding a word in a dictionary means that it does not exist. It means no such thing. This construction is ungrammatical in my idiolect, and I need resort to no other “authority” to make that unimpeachable observation. – tchrist Dec 22 '17 at 22:43
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    Your wise words so authoritatively stated convince me that the construction "request someone to do something" is absolutely not used in modern American English @tchrist. Whereas the same form is so commonly and typically used in Indian English that I find it extremely natural to the formal register, and unquestionably grammatical. So each member's perception is influenced by their own idiolect... I wonder, what is the situation in British English? – English Student Dec 22 '17 at 23:15
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    @EnglishStudent Your ngram data is quite convincing; I've incorporated the American graph in my answer. If you swap American for British you can see what's happened: it has not receded quite as much in British writers as it has in American ones. This might be because British don't use mandative subjunctive as much as we do; not sure. I cannot speak to use in India, as the English there is quite famous for having preserved older styles that are much less common today outside of India. – tchrist Dec 22 '17 at 23:21
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    Americans will prefer "may I request that you show me your passport" as the most politely formal construction @Raj 33. It's ironic that the correctness of widely accepted 'typical forms' like "request someone to do something" was never in doubt before Indians began to interact with Americans and other native English speakers over the internet in formal or semi-formal domains like business emails and Stack Exchange! I strongly request you to not be very bothered about what other people consider unusual or ungrammatical.As I said in my SE profile, "English is a very flexible language!" – English Student Dec 24 '17 at 15:04
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The Oxford Guide is misleading. It says this:

I order/request you to leave the building.

This implies that order and request have identical usage, but at least in the U.S., I don't believe this is the case.

Look at these examples:

I order you to leave the building. [Correct]

I request [that] you leave the building. [Correct. "That" is optional and often omitted, resulting in confusion!]

I request you to leave the building. [Incorrect]

You were requested to leave the building. [Correct. Passive form allows for infinitive "to leave"]

The different usages of "request" are explained here: https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/us/definition/english/request_2

Check out request somebody to do something and request that...

UPDATE: After doing some more reading with the OP, it appears that there isn't consensus on whether the construct Request somebody to do something is acceptable in the active form.

  • But you didn't answer this question - Can you explain in your answer why "I request you to leave immediately" is correct but not "I request you to leave the building immediately"? – Raj 33 Dec 22 '17 at 6:36
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    Neither is correct, you can't say request you to – Ringo Dec 22 '17 at 6:38
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    You're right, yes. That phrase "request somebody to do something" is very confusing, because it's imperative (common form in dictionary definitions) and doesn't specify that the usage is passive. I mean, yeah, you might be right. At this point, I'm not really sure. My initial instinct was that active form was correct, but after reading the other answers I started to think I was wrong. You might need to put a bounty on this if you want an expert's opinion. – Ringo Dec 22 '17 at 6:46
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    Raj, I put a bounty on the english stack question. Let those guys go at it, haha. – Ringo Dec 22 '17 at 17:12
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    @tchrist Quite possibly you are correct that my patois is not current. I still for example observe the difference between "lie" and "lay" and "sit" and "set." Moreover, I do not view English as limited to the current trends of the day. When people learn English they have opened to them valuable books that were printed before 1980. – Jeff Morrow Dec 24 '17 at 21:30
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A) Traditional grammar says these verbs take the subjunctive mood which is only visible in the third person singular in English and is be for be: ask, demand, determine, insist, move, order, pray, prefer, recommend, regret, request, require, suggest, and wish. These verbs do take subject pronouns in the subjunctive. Some of them can also take a to-infinitive: request, require, order, pray, move (as in make a motion). Recommend, insist, demand cannot take a to-infinitive. [I may have left something out].

FIRST FORM: [all these verbs can take or not take "that"]

I request you leave the building.

Let's put in the third person pronoun to "reveal" what happens: he. This shows that the subject pronoun must be used:

I request he leave the building. He insists she be on time. They prefer we be ready at nine. They pray we arrive on time.

One can put in a that or not.

B) The second possibility here is to use a to-infinitive.

SECOND FORM: I request you to do the work now.

1) I requested you to leave now. But apparently you haven't yet done that.

They requested us to do the work, not John.

She requested me to do that job. I order you to do the work now. Request them to leave their coats in the hall.

This second form requires using an indirect object pronoun.

It is not about which one is correct, they both are but they are slightly different in meaning. But they are used in different contexts.

|I ordered him|| to leave|. The purpose was for him to leave. |I ordered ||he leave|. The order was "he leave".

To-infinitive express a "for the purpose of" something. The others do not have this "purpose" idea. Request, require, order, pray and move can take to-infinitives.

I believe it is mistaken to assume these are British or American usages. They are different grammatical forms and are found on both sides of the Atlantic. They mean slightly different things and have to be taken in the context of a whole sentence. That's why ngrams don't work. They cannot show how these grammatical forms actually work.

  • Thanks for your clear explanation. So can I say "We kindly request you to send us feedback"? – Raj 33 Dec 27 '17 at 1:59
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    @Raj 33 Yes, you can say it but I would prefer it, editorially, as: We kindly request your feedback. :) Or even better, by putting the emphasis on the customer: Your feedback is kindly requested. – Lambie Dec 27 '17 at 2:05
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    I upvoted this answer, but I don't think it sufficiently explains why the NGrams don't work. Just because the two constructs have slightly different meanings doesn't mean request somebody to do something can't be outdated. – Ringo Dec 27 '17 at 3:17
  • Thanks for your suggestions. I find your answer and explanation convincing. However, I see that you are also trying to mostly avoid the usage of "request you to" in your examples. Can I know why? Is that because "request you to" doesn't look more formal to you? – Raj 33 Dec 27 '17 at 3:35
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    @Ringo Nope, I believe that I am truly done here. Cheers and Happy New Year! – Lambie Dec 27 '17 at 21:31

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