Replacing gerund with subjunctive construction

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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.

Alexander Madyuskin

Posted 2016-08-06T18:15:09.730

Reputation: 325

Is this a future possibility, or something which has already happened? – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2016-08-06T18:27:47.347

@TRomano I took this sentence from my english grammar book. Just a separate sentence. – Alexander Madyuskin – 2016-08-06T18:39:19.323

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. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2016-08-06T19:04:28.177

@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? – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica – 2016-08-06T19:55:56.920

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? – Gary Botnovcan – 2016-08-07T00:06:55.510

@P.E.Dant If the event happened the past, "We objected that the buyer paid only part of the invoice amount" is much simpler (and torture-free). – alephzero – 2016-08-07T00:47:09.740

In BrE the second sentence seems rather strange, but it could be interpreted as "we think that the buyer should only pay part of the invoice amount, and we object to his/her intention to pay the full amount." That is the opposite meaning from the first sentence, of course. – alephzero – 2016-08-07T00:51:25.203

@Gary Botnovcan: True. It's been a long day :( – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2016-08-07T00:55:05.233

@alephzero Precisely! Thus Nathan's answer below... – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica – 2016-08-07T00:55:05.653

In my non-native opinion, I think the problem is that in English you cannot say "objected to that the buyer...", so the thing you object to becomes instead the objection (in Portuguese that's the effect of taking off the preposition before the embedded clause). The subjunctive sort of works if you have a transitive verb like reject (rejected that the buyer pay...). – Artefacto – 2016-08-07T02:08:04.803

Answers

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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.

Nathan Tuggy

Posted 2016-08-06T18:15:09.730

Reputation: 9 403

1Surely 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 – 2016-08-06T18:47:55.813

@BillJ: No. See my edit for a bit more clarification. – Nathan Tuggy – 2016-08-06T18:50:24.980

@NathanTuggy Are you saying that the words after the conjunction "that" just describe what objection is ? – Alexander Madyuskin – 2016-08-06T19:15:40.400

@AlexanderMadyuskin: Yes. – Nathan Tuggy – 2016-08-06T19:20:21.260

2@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. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica – 2016-08-07T00:53:31.660