Is "John demands of science that it have logical consistency" correct grammar? I think this is called subjunctive mode. My doubt is the verbal form "have". Thanks.

Edit: Thank you all. So this is correct. It is counterintuitive to me because in my native Spanish, infinitive and subjunctive verbal forms are different.

  • Sounds fine to me.
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 26, 2020 at 20:58

2 Answers 2


I From Wikipédia, Forms it can be seen that "have" is correct as it is the English subjunctive form of "to have".

The present subjunctive is identical to the bare infinitive (and imperative) of the verb in all forms. This means that, for almost all verbs, the present subjunctive differs from the present indicative only in the third person singular form, which lacks the ending -s in the subjunctive.

The subjunctive is required because the action is not realized in this instance of use of the verb.

II There is, however, another way to express the subjunctive in English and it might be preferred for the other persons than the 3rd singular; see Wikipédia, Forms, Modals.

A construction with the modal "should" is frequently used as an alternative to the simple present subjunctive […]

So, the sentence "John demands of science that it should have logical consistency." is also correct. It is exactly equivalent.


Yes. It tells us what John demands of science.

Has would be wrong. He's not telling us what science has. He's telling us what it should have. It should have logical consistency.

  • 2
    In American usage, the base form (eg have) is strongly preferred after verbs like demand. In British usage, the base form is common in formal contexts, but in informal contexts, many people use the present (eg has). Your argument from meaning is not to the point, Charlie Bernstein: have doesn't mean should have any more than has does. It is simply a fact about English grammar - explainable in a historical sense, but arbitrary if you look just at the current language.
    – Colin Fine
    Mar 26, 2020 at 21:26

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