allow to do versus allow one/you to do

Hi guys. I have always known that such verbs as “allow or enable” require a direct object between the verb and the following infinitive, but recently I’ve come across an increasing number of examples in native speech and mass media where this rule seems to be put aside. Is this a new trend in english or just plain illiteracy?

eg. This device allows to reduce heat production.
or It will enable to build a new structure within a month.


This device allows one/you/etc. to reduce heat production.
It will enable one/you/etc. to build a new structure within a month.

Or maybe the construction with “allow” is possible, while the one with “enable” is not?

Any tips?


Can’t explain why what you have seen/heard is so. I would always put an object in.


Hi hewhocares

I can’t remember having seen the constructions you mentioned. However, if I had read them, I would have likely assumed them to be typos.

Like Alan, I wouldn’t use those constructions, but I’ll certainly keep my eyes and ears on the lookout for them. :smiley:

Hi, Amy.

Glad to hear from you! Please, do keep your “eyes and ears on the lookout for” these constructions, particularly the one with “allow”.
For quite often it happens that we don’t notice a particular phrase or experssion or figure of speech, until someone brings it to our attention (be it in your native or a foreign language). At least I speak for myself on this - to me it happens all the time:)).

I do quite a lof of translating (mostly legal and business) and in many “native”, particularly, US documents I keep bumping into this pattern: eg. “this system allows to streamline communications between bla-bla-bla” , “this procedure will allow to obtain more accurate data …”

Unfortunaly, for confidentiality reasons((, I cannot give direct quotes here, but I guess you get the idea, and the pattern is always pretty much the same - no isertion of a direct object (you/one/us/it/them, etc) after ‘allow’ (more rarely - after ‘enable’)

So, Amy, are you saying that it strikes you as odd or unnatural? Can it still be a new trend at least for business english (or legalese)? Because if it were, it would make some translations much neater and easier:))) . Or does it sound THAT awkward to you?

PS: Alan, thanks to you, too.

Hi hewhocares

Have you done a Google search for “allows to”? I’ve just done that and got 11 million hits.

Naturally, I did not look at all 11 million, but I did see lots of examples of the construction you’re talking about. However, judging by the first couple of pages, the usage you’re referring to seems to be found almost exclusively in texts connected with software, programming, PCs and the like. Could this be an example of “techie English”? They’ve got a language of their own, you know. :lol:

I also did a search on the BNC. I got 11 hits for “allows to”. Five of those were “traditional” usage. One was clearly a typo. That leaves us with 5 to wonder about.
. :wink: