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In the country where I currently reside it is quite common for written text to often miss out the word "to".

e.g

"It requires nearly all Americans get health insurance."

vs

"It requires nearly all Americans to get health insurance."

I thought this was just one of the peculiarities of how the language has come to be used in my particular country (not the US), but recently I commented on an accidentally missed out "to" on a politics stack exchange answer. The poster of the answer was in agreement with me and happy to change it, but another commenter (Canadian by their profile, so possibly American English or maybe French native speaker) remarked that the sentence would be valid without the "to". Is the other commenter correct? Is missing out "to" like this considered valid grammar?

I am a native BE speaker myself, and it sounds, at the very least, lackadaisical to my ear.

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    The reason why speakers of American Englishes (including Canadian) are likely to find it more acceptable than you as a Brit is that it’s not a to that’s missing, but a that: “It requires that nearly all Americans get health insurance”. That construction, using the subjunctive, is much more common in AmE than in BrE, and my inner ear (which is at least sometimes right) tells me that without the subordinator that, it’s virtually absent in BrE. – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 8 '17 at 15:28
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    @Janus I'd agree (with 'require'). [Some] other that-deletions are better accepted: "It means nearly all Americans get health insurance." is far less unacceptable in the UK. How would you say 'It asks nearly all Americans get health insurance." is regarded in the US? – Edwin Ashworth May 8 '17 at 16:04
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    @Edwin Yes, with regular indicative clauses, the subordinator is usually omissible, and with some subjunctive clauses too. Someone has probably investigated more thoroughly, but my initial suspicion is that the more mandative a subjunctive is, the easier it is for it to lose its subordinator: “I demand you come with me!” seems fairly fine to me even in BrE, but “I asked it not be done” only works in AmE (and only just barely there, to many AmE speakers probably not at all), and I’d say “I support the recommendation the building be torn down” doesn’t work anywhere. – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 8 '17 at 16:12
  • It seems that-deletion needs investigating further. – Edwin Ashworth May 8 '17 at 16:19
  • Ironically, “I support the recommendation the building be torn down” would probably actually be considered OK where I am (HiE), even though it sounds just as poor as the rest to me. – Toby May 8 '17 at 16:21
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There are several functionally correct ways to write this sentence:

"It requires [that] nearly all Americans get health insurance"
"It requires nearly all Americans [to] get health insurance"
"It requires nearly all Americans get health insurance"

In these examples, choosing to use or omit the [that] and the [to] will not alter the meaning of the sentence so their usage ultimately becomes a matter of style.

http://www.talkenglish.com/grammar/prepositions-of-to-for.aspx http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/when-to-leave-out-that http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/omitting-%E2%80%9Cthat%E2%80%9D

Where no single right choice exists, people will work from their local norms such as American English or Brittish English. In professional settings they may use a formal style guide to ensure consistency.

http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/grammar-style-issues

I attempted to see if there were some clear cut rules about this, such as when using proper nouns versus pronouns, but I could find no combinations that required either [that] or [to] be used unless the structure of the sentence was also modified.

"It says [that] nearly all Americans are required to get health insurance."
"It says [that] nearly all Americans must get health insurance."

One requires the use of [to], the other forbids the use of [to], and [that] still seems optional, even if I think it sounds funny to leave it out.

  • This is the subjunctive mood. Nearly all Americans getting health insurance is merely required, not asserted. – Khuldraeseth na'Barya May 8 '17 at 22:01
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    Jim's final examples make the case that it is never the 'to' that gets elided, but always the 'that'. – AmI May 8 '17 at 23:49
  • I don't see anywhere backing up the assertion that "It requires nearly all Americans get health insurance" is grammatically valid. Somewhat related Q&A: english.stackexchange.com/questions/145937/… – Rob May 10 '17 at 5:54
  • The verb "to get" is not the best word choice in that sentence. In conversation you could say "Let's get ice cream!" As in the health insurance example, both usages of the verb "to get" indicate that an action must occur to get that which you do not already have. If you want to use "to" along with "get" you must add an adverb how such as "Let's walk to get ice cream!". The example "It requires nearly all Americans get health insurance." doesn't say how you will get health insurance, only that you will get health insurance. – Jim Jun 13 '17 at 20:43
  • There is a difference in meaning between "It requires nearly all Americans to get health insurance" and "It requires that nearly all Americans get health insurance". The first says that it imposes an obligation on nearly all Americans to get health insurance. The second says that nearly all Americans getting health insurance is something that it needs. – Acccumulation Nov 26 '18 at 19:10

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