Grammar advice: infinitive in US English?

Subject: Grammar advice: infinitive in US English?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 10 Jul 2002 08:32:24 -0400


Elizabeth OShea whether the following sentence is <<... correct in US
English: 'To enable people subscribe to your company's mailing list...'>>

Nope. Here, you need the full infinitive: 'To enable people to subscribe...'

<<I have consulted Warriners, Little, Brown, and CUP's Advanced Grammar in
Use. All these sources give examples of when the bare infinitive can be used
(subscribe is the bare infinitive in this example)>>

Personally, I'd just say "to let someone do something", since "to enable to"
is twice as long, introduces a double "to", and offers no real advantage in
most cases. I'm not aware of any good rule for when the bare infinitive is
acceptable, other than to note that some verbs always seem to take the form
"to verb to" (as is the case for enable). Moreover, some examples seem to be
largely idiomatic and thus simply require a good "ear" for English. However:

<<Lastly, does anyone know of a list dedicated to grammar questions?>>

That would be copyediting-l, which I've mentioned several times on techwr-l.
For details about the list: http://ce-l.blinn.com/celfaq/
To subscribe: http://listserv.indiana.edu/archives/copyediting-l.html

--Geoff Hart, geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada
580 boul. St-Jean
Pointe-Claire, Que., H9R 3J9 Canada
"User's advocate" online monthly at
www.raycomm.com/techwhirl/usersadvocate.html
"When ideas fail, words come in very handy."--Goethe


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