Question: Constructing a New Bridge

Comment on Constructing a New Bridge

Hello Brent,
I am confused about why "discussions are to be postponed "is not correct?
gmat-admin's picture

Good question.

This is a matter of idiomatic construction. The correct idiom is "proposed that X be Y."

As with all idioms, there isn't a nice grammatical rule that governs this construction; that's just the way it is.

For more on idioms, watch:

Does that help?


Do you happen to have a video on command subjunctive? I know other verbs such as demand, suggest, insist, require, recommend...take on the same construction as "Propose that X be Y." Or are they all just idiomatic expressions?
gmat-admin's picture

We don't have a video on the command subjunctive. From what I've seen (with regard to official GMAT questions), these fall under the idiom category.


Hi brent,

Two questions:

1.) If the question stem read: Councilor Davison concluded that discussions..........are to be.....
Would this make sense over: concluded that ?
Concluded seems like more like an authoritative decision to make single handedly rather than proposing something which sounds more like a result of a cooperative discussion.

Am i overthinking this ? Should i just understand that "That x be y" is the idiom no matter what verb preceeds that ?

2.) usage of that makes sense since we are restricting the scope of the proposed action isnt it ? Councilors proposal could be anything but using that narrows it to what it is about.
Also, upon eliminating the "that" clause, the sentence makes no sense.

Am i correct in thinking like this ?
gmat-admin's picture

1) I would say that, in the spirit of concision, "concluded that postponed" is preferred.
Also, CONCLUDED can be associated with a single entity or a group.
For example we can have, "The 10 members of the committee CONCLUDED that discussions be postponed."
Or we can have, "Joe CONCLUDED that discussions be postponed."

2) I believe you may be thinking of a different usage of THAT
You're referring to the THAT vs WHICH usage, in which THAT is used to take a group of nouns and restrict the topic of discussion to a smaller group.
For example: This is the shirt THAT I bought in Paris.

In the "Councilor Davison" sentence, THAT is part of the PROPOSED THAT idiom

Does that help?


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