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Can the following sentence with gerund be rewritten with the subjunctive construction ?

We objected to the buyer's paying only part of the invoice amount.

to

We objected that the buyer should pay only part of the invoice amount.

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  • Is this a future possibility, or something which has already happened?
    – TimR
    Aug 6, 2016 at 18:27
  • @TRomano I took this sentence from my english grammar book. Just a separate sentence. Aug 6, 2016 at 18:39
  • Many speakers of AmE would not understand the second sentence with should to be a rejection of a contemplated partial payment. We would be more roundabout and say "We object to the idea that the buyer will pay..." and not use should to represent the non-actual there.
    – TimR
    Aug 6, 2016 at 19:04
  • @AlexanderMadyuskin - Negation is required in the mandative to make the two sentences equivalent in meaning: We objected that the buyer should not pay only part of the invoice amount. But why would you need such tortured syntax here? Aug 6, 2016 at 19:55
  • That doesn't look possible from my perspective, @FumbleFingers. How does a comparison between a prepositional phrase and a subordinate clause seem to duplicate a comparison between a modified gerund and a modifying participle? Aug 7, 2016 at 0:06

1 Answer 1

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No, you can't, because the replacement means the opposite thing. The original sentence talks about an objection in response to (and therefore opposing) the partial payment. But the new sentence has an objection with the substance of the partial payment — that is, you're objecting to something, and the objection you're making is that the buyer should only pay part. It's the same as saying

We objected, "The buyer should pay only part of the invoice amount."

What you should say instead (inspired by @alephzero's comment) is more like this, if it's a settled fact:

We objected that the buyer had paid only part of the invoice amount.

Or if it's a proposed course of action you're disagreeing with:

We objected that the buyer should pay the full invoice amount.

This works because "full" opposes "partial" more cleanly than simply trying to negate the original word-for-word, which would be done this way:

We objected that the buyer should not [just] pay part of the invoice amount.

"Just" can be implied, but makes things clearer and stronger if included.

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    Surely not. The salient interpretation in both examples is that the buyer's paying only part of the invoice amount is not acceptable to us.
    – BillJ
    Aug 6, 2016 at 18:47
  • @BillJ: No. See my edit for a bit more clarification. Aug 6, 2016 at 18:50
  • @NathanTuggy Are you saying that the words after the conjunction "that" just describe what objection is ? Aug 6, 2016 at 19:15
  • @AlexanderMadyuskin: Yes. Aug 6, 2016 at 19:20
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    @AlexanderMadyuskin Just in case it isn't clear (because it can become very confusing even to a native speaker:) We objected that the buyer should pay only part of the invoice amount means that we want the buyer to pay only part of the invoice amount. Aug 7, 2016 at 0:53

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