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In Article Two of the United States Constitution there is this Statement:

shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed

Now I want to know whether "be" can or should be replaced by "are", and why is it not in the said Statement.

  • "are" would be more usual, nowadays. It's an old document and that usage of "be" is quite archaic now. – Max Williams Aug 15 '16 at 14:55
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    @Max Williams There have been other discussions here about the option of using the indicative rather than an irrealis mood. I'd certainly use 'are' here, but I'm not sure that 'quite archaic' fits, and I'm fairly sure you can expect some flak. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 15 '16 at 15:12
  • Irrealis is instanced solely by "were". Your first example is subjunctive; replacing "be" with "are" gives a declarative clause. – BillJ Aug 15 '16 at 15:20
  • @Edwin: Is AmE really that "wedded to the subjunctive"? Surely if they were writing that clause today it would be ...will [must?] ensure that the laws are faithfully executed. – FumbleFingers Aug 15 '16 at 16:01
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It is important that John is at the meeting.

It is important that John be at the meeting.

To me these two sentences have different meanings. The first presuppose it to be a fact that John is at the meeting, and says that fact is important. The second requires or recommends or prescribes John's attendance at the meeting.

I think many in England, and some in America, do not use the second form in the present day.

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