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I often come across this type of thing and wondered if anyone could tell me the correct usage. I have a sentence that reads "As you go through various settings, you will have the option to allow certain activities..." My instinct is to say "...you will have the option of allowing..."

Which is correct?

  • We have lovely little words in English that people don't like to use, for some reason. "have the option to allow" could be replaced with "may allow" or "can allow". – TRomano May 17 '16 at 11:59
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@AJB: I am sorry, you may get frustrated again, because both are grammatically correct. :)

In "As you go through various settings, you will have the option to allow certain activities...," to allow is an infinitive-adjective which describes the noun "option." As adjective, it answers the question "What [kind of] option?" Answer: (the option) to allow

For lessons on the use of infinitive as adjective, please see this: http://www.chompchomp.com/terms/infinitive.htm


On the other hand, in "...you will have the option of allowing...," of allowing is a prepositional phrase composed of the preposition "of" and the gerund "allowing." Like in the previous case, "of allowing" functions as an adjective which answers the question "What [kind of] option?" Answer: (the option) of allowing

For lessons on the use of gerund as object of preposition to form a prepositional phrase which in turn can function as adjective or adverb, please see this: http://examples.yourdictionary.com/prepositional-phrases-examples.html


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GloWbE (the Corpus of Global Web-based English) has 10182 instances of "Option to [verb]" against 4850 instances of "Option of [verb]ing".

So it appears that both are in common use, with the first around twice as common as the second. I don't see any obvious difference in their distribution across countries (both phrases have more instances from GB than from US).

As for "correct" that depends entirely on which style guru, I'm sorry, I mean "authority", you choose to follow.

  • Thank you. Frustratingly, I would have liked one to be wrong on some minor level, so I could put it to bed. The issue arises with synonyms of 'option', as well as other less-related nouns. – AJB May 17 '16 at 12:23
  • @AJB: If that's your concern, I suggest you make up a rule that makes one of them wrong. That's all the grammar gurus did, a couple of centuries ago. – Colin Fine May 17 '16 at 12:26
  • Actually, those good answers do make me feel better. And of course, gerund, not participle. Thank you. – AJB May 18 '16 at 12:38
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Both of these usages are correct.

The important point to keep in mind is to use First form of verb after to(except in the case of Gerund) and verb+ing after of in such contexts.

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