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Linguapress English Grammar

Verbs of enabling and obligation


Index : Obligation & permission Verbs of prevention Causative verbs
Verbs of enablement and obligation, or causative verbs, often cause problems for students. In English, they have some rather peculiar structures that may not correspond to structures in your own language. Here are the basic rules, to help you master these important verbs.

1. Verbs of obligation or authority :

allow, ask, authorise,  instruct, invite, leave, oblige, permit, require, tell, want  etc 

After these verbs, the second verb is in the infinitive with to.
 He told me to hurry. 
 They allowed us to leave the room.
 The man instructed me to come down. 
  The police required me to give a blood sample.
 I want you to know I love you.
N.B. With all these verbs, the subordinate clause must be introduced by a subject, which is also the object of the main clause: 
for example, we cannot say: 
 ** The man permitted to open the doors **
 ** I told not to do that **
All the verbs listed can be easily used in the passive except want. Note how the verb want followed by an object, as in I want you to.... has the meaning of order or command.
The singer was told to come down.
 He was invited to give a concert.
 She was forbidden to leave the room.
 I was required to fill in a form.
 They were asked to sit down.

2. Verbs of prevention:

Stop, prevent, hinder: 
These verbs are followed by “from" and an -ing structure. The word "from" is essential with hinder, optional with stop and prevent.
He hindered us from starting in time. 
He stopped me (from) falling in the hole. 
They prevented me (from) going out.
“Stop" is not usually used in the passive, but hinder and prevent easily accept passive structures:
The hooligans were prevented from making trouble.
We were hindered by the bad weather.
The verb forbid is followed by a full infinitive with to, just like verbs of obligation above. It can also be used in the passive
 I'm going to forbid the children to stay out after 9 o'clock.
 They were forbidden to stay out after nine o'clock at night.

3. Causative verbs - verbs of direct authority: 

let, make, have.
Of these three verbs, only let can be used as a consecutive verb, i.e. followed directly by a second verb.
and tell must always be followed by a noun or pronoun complement.
With these 3 verbs, the second verb form is the infinitive without to.
 I told you not to let go !
 I let him do it. 

 He made me sit down.
 Have him tell you what he saw!
Of these three verbs, only one can be used in the passive, make :    Example,
 I was made to take off my skates.

Don’t confuse let and leave: when followed by an object and a subsidiary clause, leave means abandon, quit.
 We left him to get on with his work. (i.e. we went away)
       does not mean the same as 
 We let him get on with his work (i.e. we allowed him to....)

With this verb, the second verb form is the full infinitive with to.
 I got the people to read the instructions very carefully.

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Cette page en français:
Les verbes de permission et d'obligation


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Verbs: the present tense
Verbs : the future
Past tenses
Phrasal & prepositional verbs
Gerunds, participles and -ing forms
The infinitive
Irregular verb tables
Nouns, pronouns, adjectives
Noun phrases
Adjective order in English
The possessive
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Relative clauses in English
Conditional clauses in English
Word order in English
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Word stress in English
The short story of English
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