The following example is adapted from another ELL post

in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted that it be received

where a "that clause" is used, insist that. The question is the part immediately after that, namely, "it be received".

To me, it is easier to understand if that could have stated

... some of its noisiest authorities insisted that it should/could/would be received

On the other hand, I found lots of people using the expression. Therefor, that would be a commonly used expression that I don't understand.

So, what does "that it be" mean?

1 Answer 1


In this context, "that" is being used as a conjunction between two clauses, so you should not isolate that word with just one of the clauses.

Consider this example:

She said that it was wrong.

She said something. What did she say? She said that it was wrong.

The "authorities insisted" something. What did they insist? They insisted that it be received.

Regarding "it be received" - you probably wouldn't find it so unusual if someone said "it must be received". But in examples like yours, a modal verb like "must" is redundant because you have already used the word "insisted" to express necessity. Essentially this means the same.

  • Thanks for your comprehensive explanation. As for your example, could I say "She judge that it be wrong"?
    – WXJ96163
    Mar 10, 2020 at 9:31
  • 1
    @WXJ96163 No. "She judge" has no tense. It would be "she judged", and then you could say "she judged it to be wrong".
    – Astralbee
    Mar 10, 2020 at 12:20
  • Thanks for your kindness. Both expression "she judged that it be wrong" and "she judged it to be wrong" are grammatical and idiomatic, right?
    – WXJ96163
    Mar 10, 2020 at 12:37
  • 1
    @WXJ96163 Not the first one, no. It makes no sense. Without "to" it places it in the future. You could say "she judged that he be sentenced", because she has judged him, and now he will be sentenced. But something either is wrong, or it isn't. Once that is judged, it is wrong.
    – Astralbee
    Mar 10, 2020 at 12:40

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