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“I recommend that you do not” vs. “I recommend you not”

I recommend that you do not take this pill.

I recommend that your wife does not take this pill.

I recommend that you not take this pill.

I recommend that your wife not take this pill.

Are all four sentences correct English? Do many native American/British English speakers use verb forms like in the first two sentences?

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I'm Italian, but I've been studying English for years. I'm sure that the first two sentences are wrong. After verbs like "to recommend", "to propose", "to request" and many others, the use of the subjunctive is required (i.e. the base form of the verb).
An example: I suggested (that) she be on time for the interview.
Am I right?

byrjun March 9, 2011 @ 6:04AM

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I was reading A COMMUNICATIVE GRAMMAR OF ENGLISH by Geoffrey Leech and Jan Svartvik and found this sentence:
The doctor recommends that you do/should not tire yourself.

Thus came my question. I'm looking forward to further help. Thank you again.

joham March 9, 2011 @ 3:45PM

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yeah, the first sentences are wrong. The verb "do" is generally used for command or emphasis. The "recommend" and "do" are redundant to each other so, leave out "do."

Also, I do not know what that sentence is doing @joham. It does not make any sense to have that do/should construction, which is also awkward.

It's simply unnecessary.

scyllacat March 10, 2011 @ 8:36AM

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In British English we very rarely use subjunctive in this kind of sentence, or in fact in any type of sentence, apart from second conditional (I were etc) and even that's on the wane. The standard way of avoiding the subjunctive in this type of sentence in BrE is to use 'should' -

I recommend that you should not take this pill,
I recommend that your wife should not take this pill.

But the use of the indicative is becoming increasingly common in less formal BrE, so personally I'd be happy with the first two. The second two, albeit considered correct in AmE, would be thought of as excessively formal in BrE, and even rather old-fashioned.

So sorry @scyallacat, but what you say is only true your side of the Atlantic. That book @joham quotes is British published and what they say simply reflects standard British grammar, so makes perfect sense to us, as does the slow disappearance of the subjunctive. Few Brits will miss it (if they've even heard of it).

There's more about this at Karen's Linguistics Issues -

Warsaw Will March 10, 2011 @ 1:36PM

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They all look fine to me. If anything I would marginally favor the versions with "do/does," although "should" would be fine too.

Nigel1 March 16, 2011 @ 3:54PM

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All four work for me.

AnotherTry June 10, 2011 @ 8:29AM

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Try simplifying without the negation:

I recommend that you take this pill
I recommend that you do take this pill

Either one is correct.

You can further simplfy by eliminating the recommendation, just making it a "command":

Take this pill.
Do take this pill.

Again, either is correct, although the latter does seem to have a pleading sense of "aww, come on, please do"

porsche June 10, 2011 @ 1:00PM

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