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Which of the following sentences is correct?

  • His uncle prefers that she speaks with him personally.
  • His uncle prefers that she speak with him personally.

One guide says that the second one is correct. However, this is somewhat against our intuition.

Perhaps you can elaborate with proper references.

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  • Is this mandative?
    – F.E.
    Commented Aug 29, 2014 at 23:27
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    It seems that both versions have the same meaning: the uncle wants a situation to come about, and that situation is for her to speak to him personally. That meaning is a mandative reading, and the difference between the two versions in your post is merely of syntax: the first is a covert mandative, the second is a subjunctive mandative.
    – F.E.
    Commented Aug 29, 2014 at 23:33
  • What would be the answer if the question is put in an examination as an MCQ question?
    – Masroor
    Commented Aug 29, 2014 at 23:37
  • Here's a related post on mandatives: ell.stackexchange.com/a/31376/8758
    – F.E.
    Commented Aug 29, 2014 at 23:38
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    Yeah, you often have to do mind reading to figure out what the tester's idea of "correct" is. It seems, if I were to gamble, that the tester wants the subjunctive mandative here as the answer.
    – F.E.
    Commented Aug 29, 2014 at 23:59

1 Answer 1

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His uncle prefers that she speak with him personally.

This is most likely what you want, if I may assume your use case. The uncle, who is planning to speak with the girl, wants it to be done personally this specific time.

His uncle prefers that she speaks with him personally.

This would mean in general, when the uncle ever wants to talk to the girl, he would rather it be done personally. However, he's not referring to a specific instance.

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    My question was which of the two sentences is correct, not what they mean.
    – Masroor
    Commented Aug 29, 2014 at 16:02
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    @Masroor -- ಠ-ಠ's answer means that both are grammatically correct, and that which one is better in any given situation depends on the meaning you want to express.
    – Jasper
    Commented Aug 29, 2014 at 20:56
  • @Masroor yes, I should have been so specific. They can both be correct in different contexts. However, you did not provide the context. In my answer, I tried to say that the first option was probably the grammatically correct version by guessing your context.
    – ಠ_ಠ
    Commented Aug 30, 2014 at 5:03

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