I have to make the following sentence-simple :

I insisted that Mandela had a strong personality.

I think it'll be right-

I insisted on Mandela's having a strong personality.


I insisted on having a strong personality of Mandela.

which one is correct or sounds better?any more suggestion?

2 Answers 2


If you really must transform the original sentence, then the correct transformation would be:

I insisted on Mandela having a strong personality.

The second version that you provided suggests that it is you who has the strong personality that Mandela had.

If it were me, though, I'd go with the original for it is the simplest one.

  • Pls look @ this example- I insisted that he had a strong personality. Its simple form will be- I insisted on his having a strong personality. here I have used the possesive form of 'he'. than what's wrong in using the possessive 'Mandela's' in stead of Mandela as u said? Mar 8, 2015 at 15:35
  • 1
    The thing is that, although it may present itself that way, having in your example does not represent a verbal noun, but rather a verb in gerund. Since verbs cannot be linked with possessive pronouns, the sentence is grammatically incorrect. Mar 8, 2015 at 15:55
  • Then will the correct simple form be like that? - I insisted on him having a strong personality Mar 8, 2015 at 16:27
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    That is correct. Mar 8, 2015 at 16:29

"I insisted that Mandela had a strong personality" is, in fact, the simplest of all the versions you've listed. It uses simple verb tenses, no gerunds, and you don't have to worry about the right preposition (as in "on Mandela having...")

One thing to note, however, is that even this sentence sounds a bit like you told Mandela that he should have a strong personality. That's because it looks like a subjunctive construction, which because you're using "had" happens to look indistinguishable from your intended meaning. One way to resolve the ambiguity is to say something like:

I insisted that Mandela was a man of strong personality.

Now this has the unambiguous meaning that Mandela had a strong personality, and you insisted on that fact. The corresponding sentence with a past subjunctive would've been:

I insisted that Mandela were a man of strong personality.

This means you insisted to Mandela (or to others) that he should have a strong personality.

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