I see people saying things like this:

With a new infusion of cash it allows to make the film.

...instead of...

With a new infusion of cash it allows making the film.

I can't find a specific example right now, but it always takes the form of verb + infinitive instead of verb + participle. I've seen this repeatedly with the verb "allow"; there are others but I forget what they are.

This grates on my ears more than anything. What is the cause?

Update: Here are some examples from the web (searching Google for "allows to":


These sites have constructs like "allows to steal", "allows to find", "allows to erect", and "allows to measure". Perhaps it is the missing direct object that a respondent mentioned, but the present participle is the first thing that comes to my mind: "allows stealing", "allows finding", "allows erecting", and "allows measuring".

There is also "requires to" and "helps to".

Update 2: Here are some specific examples - taken from the web pages linked above. All of these phrases are wrong:

New Google Analytics Allows to Measure Site Speed

Android app allows to find your Phone

allows to steal data from sessionstore.js

(The last one is a fragment, I know.) Here's more examples (all wrong!!):

Creating a Google Account Requires to Enter Your Birthday in the US

Host now requires to use SMTP with PHP

Smart Array 6402 always requires to press F1 to continue.

I sincerely hope this is clear now. All of the examples given need a past participle (or some sort of direct object).

Update 3: (Hope I'm not overdoing this!) I would correct each of the above examples thusly:

New Google Analytics Allows Measuring Site Speed

Android app allows you to find your Phone

allows stealing data from sessionstore.js

Creating a Google Account Requires Entering Your Birthday in the US

Host now requires using SMTP with PHP

Smart Array 6402 always requires pressing F1 to continue.

  • 7
    Are you going for the coveted Longest Question badge? Commented May 27, 2011 at 1:56
  • 1
    This needs a tl;dr
    – jsj
    Commented May 27, 2011 at 2:00
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    I found this other English SE question which is sort of related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/384/…
    – Mei
    Commented May 27, 2011 at 2:06
  • 1
    And another - fantastic answer: english.stackexchange.com/questions/329/… But then, why do non-native speakers make this mistake - or do native speakers make it just as often?
    – Mei
    Commented May 27, 2011 at 2:08
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    I doubt you'll find a definite answer, but I think native language interference could be a factor. In Spanish, at least, you'd use an infinitive or a subordinate clause plus subjunctive in these examples, not a gerund / present participle. This is probably true for other romance languages as well. Commented May 27, 2011 at 2:11

3 Answers 3


So, in traditional grammar these cases would be considered gerunds, not present participles, because they head noun phrases. Modern grammatical analyses of English (such as the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language) analyse gerunds and present participles as a single construct called the gerund-participle.

In any case, this error is common because some languages (I am personally familiar with Spanish, but probably there are others) have parallel constructions which are identical except for the use of the infinitive instead of the gerund.

For example the English sentence

[A new infusion [of cash] ] [allows [making the film] ].

translates as

[Una nueva inyección [de dinero] ] [permite [hacer la película] ].

The Spanish word hacer is the infinitive form of make, and, for native speakers of Spanish, this error is in fact quite common.

  • 4
    @FumbleFingers I guess I wasn't clear—in Spanish the parallel structure uses the infinitive, so when speaking English native Spanish speakers often substitute the infinitive for the gerund in this kind of construction.
    – nohat
    Commented May 27, 2011 at 5:39
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    @FumbleFingers I'm not sure where you're getting that number, but there are certainly cases where “allows to” is grammatical, such as when the object has been fronted: “Joy has a couple of cats that she allows to roam everywhere”
    – nohat
    Commented May 28, 2011 at 2:19
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    @FumbleFingers, ah I see, from the link in you answer. I looked through the first couple pages of results, and they all seem to be coming from foreign authors. The authors listed on the results page are often just the editors. The individual papers that contain the erroneous "allows to" seem to be invariantly published by authors in non-English-speaking countries.
    – nohat
    Commented May 28, 2011 at 2:28
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    @FumbleFingers from the Naval report: author A. Svoboda, Prague, Czechoslovakia :-)
    – nohat
    Commented May 28, 2011 at 5:01
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    @nohat Reminds me of the inverse phenomenon, of native speakers of English trying to use a gerund in Spanish where only an infinitive is allowed. BTW, that bare hacer probably needs a reflexive clitic: hacerse.
    – tchrist
    Commented Aug 19, 2012 at 2:34

Uhm, could you please try giving a better example? Both the sentences you have posted as an example sound a bit awkward, I would almost say they are broken.

Remember that "it allows one to make a film" is correct.

Also, "it allows making a film" is correct.

I know this isn't exactly what you wanted to know, but unless you provide a concrete, proper example, I think it's very difficult to distinguish what is really being asked here.

P.S.: It should also be noted that unless I'm missing the context, your sentences should start with with the new infusion of cash.

EDIT to reflect your edit:

All those examples you have added seem to be perfectly fine to me. There are even cases where your theory would fail, imagine:

They allowed me to do the job.

It would be incorrect to say the following:

They allowed me doing the job.

On the other hand and taken from your example, imagine:

This application allows you to find your cell phone.

Do you think this statement is wrong? So how would you write it? Like this?

This application allows you finding your cell phone.

Because this is obviously wrong.

Which comes to a conclusion:

Allows you to find* implies that you will be able to actually find the phone after looking for it. It talks about the successful action of finding.

Allows you looking for would imply that the application helps you with the looking process, but it isn't necessarily everything you need to succeed in your search.

  • Gah. I knew it - someone picked it out. I can't think of a decent example, but I think I got my message across.
    – Mei
    Commented May 27, 2011 at 0:12
  • @David: Sorry, my friend, I'm not trying to be picky, I'm really trying to help you resolve the question, but it's difficult to understand what exactly is being asked here.
    – Frantisek
    Commented May 27, 2011 at 0:14
  • I don't know where you got the "allowed me to do the job" example; that wasn't one of the web links I had - or at least, not the problem phrase I had in mind. Similarly, the latter example was not the phrase I had in mind. The examples were almost all in the page titles. If you look at my edit #2 above, you'll see what I mean.
    – Mei
    Commented May 27, 2011 at 1:40

I'm not going to get into the native use of 'allow' + -ing or 'allow' + to infinitive but I believe the reason why non-natives often make that mistake is influence of their native tongue.

As an example, the English languade requires that 'want' be followed by 'to infintitive' and 'avoid' be followed by '-ing form' (I'm using the terminology most Portuguese teachers would use with their students). But the Portuguese language requires only the use of the infinitive so most Portuguese will naturally tend to say 'I want do it' and 'I avoid do it' and then proggress to 'I want to do it' and 'I avoid to do it'. Knowing which verbs require a gerund takes its time.

As said by others, Spanish learners make similar mistakes for the same reason. And it probably holds true for native speakers of many other languages!

The verb 'allow' simply follows the trend.

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