1. I insisted that he doesn’t look out of the window.

  2. I insisted that he don’t look out of the window.

  3. I insisted that he not look out of the window.

Which is correct?

  • As a native speaker, but not a pie hot grammarian(?), I would say either 1 or 3 work fine, but 2 doesn't quite work. You could also use "shouldn't"
    – Smock
    Jun 3, 2019 at 10:25
  • Only 3. is acceptable in standard English. 1 is simply not standard. Check these verbs also: recommend, advise and suggest. They all work the same way. "that" is optional. 2) is only acceptable as an ongoing thing. I insisted [at some point in the past] that he doesn't look out the window. [in general, in his life]
    – Lambie
    May 13, 2021 at 20:54

3 Answers 3

  1. is not grammatical. 1. and 3. are both grammatical, and they mean different things.

You could say 1. if you've noticed that he doesn't look out of the window, and you're insistently telling someone else this.

If you're insistently telling someone else to make sure that he doesn't look out of the window [in future], then say 3.


All three are used in everyday language (prescriptive vs descriptive argument can begin), but I'd lean to number 3 being the (prescriptively) correct one because you insisted something. Ie. What follows is a noun clause and therefore shouldn't have a fully conjugated subject/verb pattern.


Number 2 is a clear case of subjunctive:

I insist he do/do not continue.

However, it is nowadays considered so overcorrect that it has known a decline in use.

As for nr 1, although the grammar books will tell you that it not correct, this is the one structure most people use nowadays. So much so, that to some native speakers number 2 appears to sound incorrect.

  • On the contrary, it is 3 that is correct. That's how negative subjunctive verbs are used. See for example [this Google NGrams comparison][books.google.com/ngrams/… (Similar searches may of course be done with different inflections of "insist" and different pronouns.)
    – Rosie F
    Dec 10, 2020 at 6:36
  • @Rosie F: Thank you! Must do better!
    – fev
    Dec 10, 2020 at 7:30

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