Is there really a difference between using "allows for" and just simply "allows" as in this scenario? To me, both of these sentences mean exactly the same thing. Does having the 'for' make the sentence mean something even slightly different at all? I have searched all over but have not encountered anything that is similar to this scenario. Any help is much appreciated.

  1. Music allows me to express myself.
  2. Music allows for me to express myself.
  • To my thinking, “allows for” can be replaced with “makes allowances for” and thus makes music an actor that does the allowing. – Jim Sep 12 '16 at 5:12
  • You can use either one. It’s common to use either the infinitive phase or the prepositional phrase. Of course, the first sentence is the most common usage. The first uses an adjective infinitive phrase to modify “me” to answer, “Whose expression?” The second sentence uses an adverb prepositional phrase (notice how the infinitive phrase has been incorporated into the phrase) to modify the verb “allows.” The prepositional phrase answers, “What allows you to express yourself?” – Arch Denton Sep 12 '16 at 6:48
  • @Jim But one could argue that the other usage is also personification, with music again being an 'actor that does the allowing'. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 12 '16 at 9:25
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    A Google search for "this allowed for him to" clearly shows quite a few examples of the 'allow for X to' = 'allow X to' sense, and 50 000+ hits are claimed. However, dictionaries seem to confine their definitions of 'allow for' to the 'to take something into consideration/account / plan for a contingency' sense. I'd say that using 'allow for' where 'allow' is a valid alternative is at best old-fashioned and slightly garden-pathy. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 12 '16 at 9:34
  • @EdwinAshworth I tend to agree with you. I don't think I would use allows for unless it meant make allowance for. E.g. If we buy six yards of material it will allow for plenty of wastage. Jane is expecting six guests for dinner but has allowed for eight. – WS2 Sep 12 '16 at 9:43

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