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I came across the sentence below in a book on Linguistics:

This makes possible to consider language as a regulator not only of its perception, but also of its representation and action.

I cannot tell if the sentence is correct. Should not it read "makes it possible to...?" Thanks.

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    Yes it's a mistake. "It" definitely belongs in there.
    – ralph.m
    Commented Nov 27, 2015 at 22:39
  • @ralph.m I think it scans without the "it".
    – Calchas
    Commented Nov 28, 2015 at 7:00
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    Scanning is for poetry, in my experience. Without the "it", it sounds like a foreign speaker error.
    – ralph.m
    Commented Nov 28, 2015 at 22:29

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Certainly a noun phrase may follow "This makes possible" as the direct object of makes. From the Congressional Record in 1960:

This makes possible the elimination of unnecessary delay and difficulty to everyone concerned,....

It seems possible to allow a gerund as that noun phrase. From a US patent application:

This makes possible eliminating the time needed for the next position determination process.

To my ears, an infinitive won't do without a dummy subject it:

This makes it possible to eliminate the time needed for the next position determination process.

However, the infinitive alone appears in print. It's certainly distinctly disfavored: the google finds 27.5M instances of "this makes it possible to" but only but only 274K instances of "this makes possible to." For books, the counts are 884K for the former, only 12.3K for the latter.

A look unto fatigue at the search results in the Ngram viewer containing "this makes possible to" finds numerous authors from non-Anglophone countries using the phrasing and numerous editors from non-Anglophone countries allowing it. The usage appears predominantly in publications covering science, medicine, and technology, and it slips into prose that otherwise seems natural and fluent.

The rare locution* seems more common than can be written off as editing errors, but it also seems that native speakers have not adopted it.

* That is, when the infinitive is the direct object of make.

EDIT: I have removed an erroneous cite to a US source, which I find I cannot replace.

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    Google Books claims 2160 instances of which makes possible to, but there are none at all C19, and less than a dozen C20 (mostly with very "foreign-looking" scientist authors). I'd write off the handful of usages by native speakers as "errors" of one kind or another. Nobody's perfect, and I don't think this is something that can be excused as "dialectal variant", and it has no real "history". Commented Nov 28, 2015 at 0:26
  • @Araucaria Yes, indeed, that cite is in error. Thank you. I have corrected the answer.
    – deadrat
    Commented Nov 29, 2015 at 6:11
  • @deadrat Sorry, I deleted my comments before reading your post :( You might want to edit out your reference to them ... Commented Nov 29, 2015 at 11:25
  • @Araucaria Qué lástima!
    – deadrat
    Commented Nov 29, 2015 at 17:39
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It's ungrammatical. The sentence means:

  • This makes [to consider language as a regulator not only of its perception, but also of its representation and action] possible.

However, in modern English we don't like to use infinitival clauses as direct Objects of verbs like MAKE. They are difficult to process. Instead we insert an it as a dummy Direct Object and move the infinitival clause to the end of the sentence:

  • This makes it possible [to consider language as a regulator not only of its perception, but also of its representation and action].

In the example from the book, the infinitival clause has been moved to the end of the sentence. However, the sentence is now lacking an obligatory (syntactic) Direct Object - because the dummy it has not been inserted.

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This makes possible to consider language as a regulator not only of its perception, but also of its representation and action.

If followed by an infinitive, "possible" definitely requires "it possible", but it is a fairly convoluted sentence at best.

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