I am writing a novel, the narrative is generally in the first person, past tense.

I am trying to figure out the correct way to use the subjunctive in the example given in the title. While there is a Merriam-Webster article (linked below) that seems to suggest that I use "demanded that we start", google search gives comparable number of results for "demanded that we start" and "demanded that we started".

My questions are

  1. Which of the options is correct?
  2. If both are acceptable, is there a difference in meaning?

Please let me know and thank you for your time!

N.B. I am not a native speaker.


UPD: I double-checked my google exact search results. For "Demanded that we start" vs. "demanded that we started", google gives a strong preference for the former, so I was mistaken in my original premise.

However, for "demanded that we go" vs. "demanded that we went", there seems to be a comparable number of results (even though the former is more popular).

  • It has to be "demanded that we start". Somewhere we have a question that answers this here, but I haven't found it yet.
    – tchrist
    Oct 21, 2022 at 1:27
  • 1
    Does this answer your question?
    – tchrist
    Oct 21, 2022 at 1:33
  • Thank you! Yes, mostly. I am still a little confused about where my google queries come from. I double-checked. It seems that for "demanded that we start(ed)", the proper form is much preferred. But for "demanded that we went" vs "demanded that we go", the former still has lots of queries. Is it just improper usage or something else?
    – Arseny
    Oct 21, 2022 at 2:03
  • "Demanded that we went" would not be grammatical for me, and I don't think for most other native speakers, at least in North America.
    – tchrist
    Oct 21, 2022 at 2:05
  • I see, thank you very much! And thank you for your original answer in the other thread, it is very helpful.
    – Arseny
    Oct 21, 2022 at 2:07


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