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I have the following sentence:

We insist that alcohol is banned to ensure that we won't(don't) meet the situation such that drunken accidents will happen.

My question:

  1. Should I use won't or don't ?
  2. should I have that after insist?

Thank you!

  • Bear in mind that won't = will not meet (explicitly future tense), whereas don't = do not meet (present tense as future). By exactly the same token, will happen at the end could just as naturally be happens (and personally I'd find that one more natural, but others may differ). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Aug 15 '15 at 13:35
  • All the XXX/YYY and parentheses really make your example unreadable. If you give an example, give an example. – Victor Bazarov Aug 15 '15 at 13:35
  • @VictorBazarov sorry about this. I am writing a science paper and those condition are some really mass symbols... Next time I will try to put some simple example here instead of XXX! – JumpJump Aug 15 '15 at 13:37
  • @Denoising: I've edited to replace XXX/YYY with a couple of short sample texts. If you don't like those particular examples, feel free to edit in something different yourself. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Aug 15 '15 at 13:43
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    @Denoising: I tried to make my XXX / YYY (precautionary measure / unwanted outcome) as short as I could, but it still looks very "verbose" to me. The grammatical situation is as per my first comment, but stylistically I'd advise you to discard the irrelevant meandering "padding" and go for ...to ensure [that] drunken accidents don't happen (or even more concisely, to avoid drunken accidents). The shorter your total text, the less reason there is to include that in many contexts - it's routinely omitted unless it's needed to help the reader stay on track with the parsing. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Aug 15 '15 at 15:16
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We insist that alcohol is banned to ensure that we don't encounter situations like a drunken accident.

My personal preference in sentence like this is to use "don't". I believe it follows the rule of the correspondence of tenses. The Present Indefinite of "don't" plays the role of Past-in-Future.

I'll explain. If we fail to establish the rule/situation/relationship/whatnot, the situation will happen, we are pretty sure of it. When it occurs (notice Present Indefinite here, "occurs"), we will learn about it, but the time at which we learn about it ("meet it") is going to be after the situation. So, to us in our future the situation itself is going to be in the Past. That is why to describe it now we use the Present Tense, negatives included.

To give you one example, John is going to marry Jane. After marriage they will go on a trip. On their way to Tahiti, they will already be married, so their marriage is going to be in the past, but now their trip is in the future. So, to describe it in one sentence we can say, "After John and Jane marry, they will leave for Tahiti."

As to "that", it is definitely needed.

| improve this answer | |
  • I just wanted to add my two cents on what I use to figure out which one to use. I agree that you would use "don't" because it makes more sense to use "do not" instead of "would not" in the sentence. Saying would not is a little awkward in my opinion, but I use the same method for any contraction I'm not sure about (e.g. shouldn't, don't, let's, etc.). – dakre18 Jan 15 '16 at 21:51

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