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Can you say "the state secures that people do not have any emotions"? Or does secure have to be followed by a noun or even a gerund? Like: "the state secures a lack of emotions" or "the state secures people not having any emotions" My dictionaries are not forthcoming on this issue!

  • Try 'ensures' . – Erik Kowal Dec 22 '14 at 9:21
  • Even kavisiegel's good suggestions lead to correct English rather than to sensible statements mirroring your example. How can a state ensure that its people lose all emotions? Though it can certainly encourage certain emotions at the expense of others. – Edwin Ashworth Dec 22 '14 at 9:41
  • The pupil in question was writing about brave new world, whose citizens are conditioned... Ensures is what I would have written, however, the pupil wrote secures and I'm stuck with the marking, my question is more whether what he wrote should be marked as wrong, or simply underlined as unidiomatic! – Naomi Dec 22 '14 at 9:51
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I think the way you're thinking of secure is right on the edge of what the word means. To secure something provides assurance that that something is safe, or true. I think the word you're looking for is more like:

"The state ensures that people do not have any emotions"
"The state assures there are no emotions" 

To use the word secure in a sentence like this, I'd say...

"The state has secured a hold on all citizens' emotions"
"The state has secured control over emotions"
"The state has secured emotional leverage over citizens"
"The ability to control emotion has been secured by the state"

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