What is the construction be + verb (perfect form)? I have come across it multiple times in legalese. For instance:

to ensure that every person be granted adequate assistance

  • It has nothing to do with the to; that's there to introduce the infinitive ensure. It's the that you should be looking at. It introduces an object complement clause, which in this case is an untensed ("infinitive") construction -- be granted instead of is granted. The be granted construction itself is simply a passive, but it's a passive promoting the indirect object every person to subject, instead of the direct object adequate assistance. LIke the difference between The book was given (to) her and She was given the book. Sep 13, 2015 at 16:55

1 Answer 1


"be" in "be granted" in your sentence is present tense subjunctive of the verb to be.

In English this subjunctive form looks like an infinitive and that's why it is often seen as an infinitive.

Only if you have a look at other languages you see that the subjunctive forms are different from indicative forms:

Latin est x sit*

German ist x sei*

French est x soit*

English is x be*

Unfortunately in English the subjunctive form and the infinitive have got the same form in the course of centuries, so that a real feeling for the subjunctive form be* is hardly possible.

This present subjunctive is usual in American English after verbs such as to demand:

  • They demanded that each of them be* given an equal share.

For more information you have to use a grammar.


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