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According to Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, page 208,

Allow, permit, and let can express deontic possibility, permission, but are also used more generally in a causative sense similar to enable, as in The good weather allowed us to finish the job a day early. Because of this causative meaning the time of the complement situation is simultaneous with that of the modality, which is why they cannot normally be used performatively: we say I will allow him to stay until tonight, not I allow...

Why do they say these cannot be used performatively?

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    Saddening downvotes (which I've 'part-cancelled'); I think it's scandalous that people should downvote without giving a reason here, where the question is certainly at the correct level for ELU. (a) I'm totally unsure about the reason given for '[the fact/assertion that] they cannot normally be used performatively' (after all, modals say are famously ambiguous on occasion). (b) "I permit you to stay until tonight" sounds acceptable if a little literary. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 20 '19 at 16:23
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    I could give you an answer here. However, I'm not sure if you really appreciate the answers people write for you. You've asked 64 questions and never accepted an answer (which is fine). It appears you've hardly ever even upvoted one either (less so). So, I'm wondering whether you'd really appreciate the time and effort I'd have to put in. I think I'll leave it. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Oct 20 '19 at 18:29
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    @EdwinAshworth: How about, I hereby allow you to proceed? – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Oct 20 '19 at 18:39
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    I step aside and allow you to pass. How is that not performative? In fact, how is I will allow not also performative, but simply in the future tense? Must something that is performative be in the present tense? I'm not sure that makes sense. – Jason Bassford Oct 21 '19 at 0:24
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    @Mitch: Performative means the action is performed by saying it, not just described by saying it. So I now pronounce you man and wife is a performative sentence, because the civil servant has the power to change the state of affairs in the real world by his utterance: the fact that he says it makes them man and wife. If the bride's mother says, "you are now man and wife", that is not performative, but merely descriptive (assertive). – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Oct 21 '19 at 13:50
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Enable is not performative in it of itself, so it’s synonyms aren’t either allow, permit, or let. The reason for this property of allow is allow is not a verb allowing for something is not performing something. Think about it like this you’re asking the difference between running into a door and opening it, or the difference between performing something or allowing it.

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  • What’s wrong with this answer? – TheGuradian Jan 30 at 21:40

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