"That you should behave like this is strange". Will this sentence be grammatically correct if I remove the word "should", from it ?

  • I'm not sure I understand your question. It's not clear to me if "That you should be have like this is strange" is the sentence you're asking about, or if some or all of that is part of your question and you're asking about some other sentence. Can you use quotation marks (or a quotation block, using > at the start of the line) to clearly indicate the sentence you're referring to? – Blckknght Oct 6 '18 at 7:18
  • Not "be have" it is "behave". I saw this as an example of noun clause in the net. – Mathew KJ Oct 6 '18 at 7:29
  • Oh, I made a typo in my comment. Still, can you edit your question to be clearer? – Blckknght Oct 6 '18 at 7:34
  • "That you should behave like this is strange." Is it wrong if I remove the word "should"from the sentence ?, why ? – Mathew KJ Oct 6 '18 at 7:38
  • Please click the "edit" button under your question, rather than commenting with the same text again. – Blckknght Oct 6 '18 at 7:40

No, it's not superfluous. The meaning is different if you remove "should."

As @Ricky indicates in another answer, "should" is used to indicate a subjunctive mood. I think Wikipedia's description of the subjunctive sheds a little more light on the question's use case: "The subjunctive in English is used to form sentences that do not describe known objective facts, such as wishes or hypothetical suppositions."


That you should behave like this is shocking.

technically leaves a tiny bit of logical space for the speaker and listener to then argue whether or not the speaker actually believes that the listener is behaving like this, whereas if she said,

That you behave like this is shocking.

the speaker would more definitively assert that listener is doing the behavior.

In practice, I think this is a somewhat subtle usage of the subjunctive in order to amplify the speaker's feeling of indignation or shock (as @Ricky suggested). The speaker doesn't intend to highlight the question whether the behavior did or did not happen. Rather she uses the possibility that the behavior did not happen to amplify how shocking the behavior is:

That behavior is so shocking that you couldn't possibly have done it.

That is to say,

It would be shocking if you were to behave like this.

(By the way, that last example is an alternative subjunctive form that is, in this case, blunter).

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"That you should behave like this is strange". Will this sentence be grammatically correct if I remove the word "should", from it ?

The simple answer is Yes.

The sentence "That you behave like this is strange" is perfectly grammatical and meaningful.

Whether it has the same meaning is a different question altogether but you didn't ask that.

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This particular form of something called "the subjunctive," which, in turn, is something called "a grammatical mood," pertains to verbs, and has something to do with modality (whatever that's supposed to be ... don't ask ...) is no longer used frequently, which is a pity.

Anyway, it is used to express surprise and/or regret.


It strikes me as quite odd that you should behave in this manner.

... is, in some sense, similar to saying "WTF, mate!" ... whereas

It's just odd, you behaving in this manner. You know?

... is not.

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  • en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/should says that one of the uses of the word is 'in a clause with ‘that’ after a main clause describing feelings.' In your example you have put the description of feelings - that you find it strange - after the clause with 'that'. – Kate Bunting Oct 6 '18 at 8:40
  • @KateBunting: I was just mimicking the OP. Still, I'm not quite sure what you mean. Could you give me a for-instance? – Ricky Oct 6 '18 at 18:12
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    Sorry, I had meant to address the questioner. The Oxford Dictionaries link gives some examples. – Kate Bunting Oct 6 '18 at 19:39
  • @KateBunting: Oh. I see how this could be confusing. Swapping the two clauses in this case may not be everyday vernacular, but it's legit, with poetic overtones. As in "Sir, said I, or madam, truly your forgiveness I implore" instead of "I said, sir, or madam, I implore your forgiveness." – Ricky Oct 6 '18 at 19:49

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