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“The third book on the second pile, my dear. Page twenty-three, I believe. You will find a very good picture of a raven. Let me show you how it differs from a rook. The robin will be on page seventy-two, though this time of year the breast will be more sorrel than orange. Now for the Hylocichla guttata pritchardi. The Latin is quite simple. Hylo in a word means wood, and this little thrush is to be found near trees. Gutta refers to drops, or in this case the spots on the bird’s chest. I’m afraid pritchardi is the result of my own vanity. When a new bird is found, it is often named after the person who discovers it, but the Royal Bird Society has refused to accept my bird as a new subspecies, and so they will not give it my name. They insist that I am mistaken in saying that it does not have the white eye ring, but I do not make mistakes where birds are concerned.”

Dose the preposition "in" refer to "insist" or refer to "mistaken"?

I myself think "in" refer to "mistaken" and we can also write it like this: I told them the the bird does not have the white eye ring but they said I am wrong.

am I right??

I have never seen the verb "insist" followed by "in".

Could you please make the sentence more clear to me if I am wrong?

Source: Listening for Lions by Gloria Whelan

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    You're right. In is not connected to insist in this sentence. The phrases should be grouped something like this: "[they insist that][I am mistaken in][saying that][it does not have the white eye ring]" Any reason you doubted this?
    – Juhasz
    Apr 1 '20 at 17:35
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The verb insist colocates with "on". It can only be followed by "in" in rare cases, either as an error or when the preposition is not part of a phrase with "insist".

The shop owner insists, in Hindi, that I have a discount.

(further examples https://lingohelp.me/preposition-after-verb/insist-on-upon-in-to/)

Similarly your example uses "that I am mistaken in saying....". and "insist" is being used as speech verb.

Compare:

He said that I am mistaken in claiming that it does not have a white eye-ring.

The preposition "in" is not connected to the verb "insist" (or the verb "said" in the comparison)

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  • Lots of thanks, So can we write it like this: I told them the bird does not have the white eye ring but they said I am wrong?? Apr 2 '20 at 12:02
  • You should backshift the tense, but that is understandable
    – James K
    Apr 2 '20 at 17:20

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