Allow to do something

There’s always an object needed in this structure, with “allow” as an active verb and an infinitive following: who is being permitted to do something. It can’t stand alone.

Sorry about the grammar lesson. It’s probably better explained with an example:

  • Example:
    “The option ‘Custom’ allows to choose a different URL.
    => has to be allows you to choose, allows the user to choose…
  • the same applies for other similar verbs like permit:
    “This ticket permits to park in the designated bays”
    => has to be permits you or permits the holder etc.
  • Note: the passive form (e.g. “swimming is permitted here” or “smoking is not allowed”) doesn’t require the object stating who it affects

Please note, however, that allow may not be the best choice: there are many cases where let is the more natural option (see that post here).

Prevalence: high. Perhaps because it’s not usually a precise literal translation of anything.
Frequency: high. Most authors who get it wrong will do so consistently.
Native: no. It’s just plain wrong.

Published by Mike Wilkinson

Twenty years of translating and editing Dutch into English, as well as writing and publishing in English.

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