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I was watching an old movie, The Little Rascals, and one of the lines from a kid goes:

Your Honor, may I suggest... this court rules he be put on probation.

I am not sure if be is in infinitive form because this is an example of subjunctive mood. If so, shouldn’t rules be the verb to be written as a infinitive because it is subordinate to suggest?

In addition, if I were to rewrite this sentence, I would write it as that it ran something like this:

Your Honor, may I suggest... this court rule that he will be put on probation.

I’ve made two changes:

  1. suggest (that) this court rules > suggest (that) this court rule
    (indicative > subjunctive/bare-infinitive)

  2. (that) he be put > that he will be put
    (subjunctive/bare-infinitive > present-tense modal plus infinitive)

I wonder whether my rewrite would be considered grammatically correct.

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    Does this answer your question? When should I use the subjunctive mood? From John Lawler's answer: << There are four patterns, with four different kinds of complement-taking impositive predicates: 1) Transitive impositive communication verbs: insist, suggest, demand, prefer, propose, suggest, recommend, demand, ask, mandate, prefer, request, ask, desire, advise, urge, specify ... rule ... and move (in the parliamentary sense). Pattern: NP + Volit Verb + that + [NP + Infinitive VP] ...>> Commented Nov 11, 2020 at 16:06
  • @EdwinAshworth Thank you for the reply. It does partially answer my question since now I know "rules he be" is a legit subjunctive usage. It's very informative and helpful. I learned a lot. But I would like to know more about why "rules" itself is not infinitive since it follows "suggest". BTW I am not sure whether my question will be terminated if I click "Yes" to "Does this answer your question?" so I will click "No". Commented Nov 11, 2020 at 16:42
  • We can't tell what you've omitted. This could change the surrounding grammar needed. Commented Nov 11, 2020 at 16:50
  • We can't tell what you've omitted. This could change the surrounding grammar needed. << Your Honour, may I suggest that this court rule that he be put on probation. >> would certainly satisfy 80-year-old Br legalists in every sense of the word. Note that both 'suggest' and 'rule' may trigger the subjunctive. But << Your Honour, can I suggest that the court rules that he is put on probation?/. >> sounds more like 21st Century real English. The indicative for the subjunctive is common. // Once, the automatic close-vote tag was something like 'I firmly believe this to be a duplicate ....' I do. Commented Nov 11, 2020 at 16:56
  • @EdwinAshworth Your preferred Your Honour, can I suggest that the court rules that he is put on probation? is ungrammatical in American English. No court of law would makes so many error.
    – tchrist
    Commented Nov 11, 2020 at 17:20

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It's not. It's the subjunctive mood. Yes, traditionally, both rule and be should be subjunctive. The traditional sentence should therefore be "I suggest that the court rule that he be placed on probation."

Some would no doubt prefer to call that "old fashioned" rather than "traditional."

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