Could someone explain the grammar to me - use of "be changed" in The report recommends that radar screens be changed. Why it is used like this? What does this usage should express? Where (under what name)I could study it in detail? Thank you in advance. Edi


2 Answers 2


This is an example of writing in the 'third person' - i.e. the subject is always 'he', 'she' or 'it'. It is commonly used in formal or technical reports that will be read more widely than a specific person. In the UK, we use the style to avoid confronting others - in this example we would never say 'you should change the radar screens' since it might confer an element of blame that they hadn't already done so.

  • Welcome to English Language & Usage. Your answer cites no sources, which is about the equivalent of it being just an opinion. You would do well to research this and rewrite your answer, citing sources. Thanks.
    – J. Taylor
    Oct 26, 2017 at 20:30
  • Ironically, the only answer that I have seen that has cited any sources is the one below mine!
    – Nick
    Oct 26, 2017 at 20:56
  • I think you need to read some more questions and answers, noting how they were received., We have good questions and answers, and, some , at times, not as good. I think you will want to write good questions and answers to make your experience here the best possible.
    – J. Taylor
    Oct 26, 2017 at 21:08

This is the subjunctive. According to Wikipedia:

The subjunctive in English is used to form sentences that do not describe known objective facts. These include statements about one's state of mind, such as opinion, belief, purpose, intention, or desire.

While it's sometimes hard to know the subjunctive is being used, this isn't the case with be:

Present subjunctive
(that) I be, (that) you be, (that) he be, (that) we be, (that) they be

  • It is also called the jussive or mandative subjunctive. Note that present/past subjunctive refers only to the verb form used ('be' vs 'were') -- it has nothing to do with when the hypothetical action would occur.
    – AmI
    Oct 26, 2017 at 21:40
  • The subjunctive (which term some reject totally and others accept to label the clause construction headed by a plain form verb (infinitival) but not a 'mood form') has been covered far too often on ELU. Oct 27, 2017 at 10:31

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