The article titled, ‘U.S. factors may spare Obama EU allies’ fate’ on Japan Time May 9 issue wraps up with quotes from Mitt Romney and his campaign spokeswoman, Amanda Henneberg;

“'The real question is not just about how we'are doing today. It's about how we'll be doing tomorrow,' he (Romney) said. 'When we look back four years from now, or 10, 20 years from now, won’t we be better off if we have the courage to keep moving forward?'

But Romney will not to let Obama change the subject. “President Obama would like for voters to believe he hasn’t been president for the last three years, “ said campaign spokesman Amanda Henneberg."

I have a few qestions on the above ending lines:

  1. Is ‘to’ necesasary in “Romney will not to let Obama change the subject”? In other word, is [will + to + do] combination grammatically right??

    If it is a typo. I see typos too often in reputable publications these day as in the case of “He went on explain (Clucify metaphor)” in New Yorker magazine I posted a week ago. Is it still a ‘local’ problem?

  2. Can spokesman be used for a female? I understand Romney’s campaign spokesperson, Amanda Henneberg is a female.

  3. The last line, “President Obama would like for voters to believe he hasn’t been president for the last three years,” looks winding to me. Is Henneberg saying President Obama was only good for the first year in his term?

  • Spokesperson (as is Chairperson) is an invented term for gender-sensitive writing and these seem to have lived their life -- we are back to the estblished 'spokesman', 'chairman' etc.
    – Kris
    Commented May 14, 2012 at 8:45
  • Your Q3. is for writersSE.
    – Kris
    Commented May 14, 2012 at 8:47

2 Answers 2

  1. The [will + to + do] combination is grammatically wrong for the future tense (though there is a form when will means desire). The future in English uses the infinite form without to as in "will do" or "will be". Your quote is probably a typo for "Romney will not let Obama change the subject."

  2. A spokesman can be a woman, and certainly so if that is how she wants to be described.

  3. Barack Obama has been president for just over three years (since 20 January 2009). The line means that he will want voters to judge him on his plans for the future rather on than his record as an incumbent. Personally (British English), I would leave out the for in your final quote so it would read "President Obama would like voters to believe..."

  • RE #3: 3 years and 4 months, rounds down to 3 years. Technically by the end of July it will be over 3 1/2 years, and so people should start rounding up and saying "for the last 4 years".
    – Jay
    Commented May 14, 2012 at 14:41
  • +1 for picking up on that extraneous "for". I don't like to be prescriptive, but if someone is getting paid as a spokesman, they really ought to avoid forms that are bound to sound ignorant to at least some people. Commented May 14, 2012 at 22:18

In answer to #1:


Unlike allow, which otherwise means pretty much the same thing, let is a verb that requires an infinitive without to,. The following constructions are grammatical:

  • A will (not) let B do X.
  • A will (not) allow B to do X.

But let is ungrammatical with to:

  • *A will (not) let B to do X.
  • *A let B to do X.

whereas allow is ungrammatical without to:

  • *A will (not) allow B do X.
  • *A allowed B do X.

Then there's the idioms let go, meaning to release one's hold on something, which also disallows to.

  • He let go of the line.
  • *He let to go of the line.

and Let's do X, which is an invitation to do X together with the speaker.

  • Let's go to the movies.
  • *Let's to go to the movies.

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