Chapter published in:English Historical Linguistics 2008: Selected papers from the fifteenth International Conference on English Historical Linguistics (ICEHL 15), Munich, 24-30 August 2008.. Volume I: The history of English verbal and nominal constructions
Edited by Ursula Lenker, Judith Huber and Robert Mailhammer
[Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 314] 2010
► pp. 45–62
Prevent and the battle of the -ing clauses
The article discusses the variation between the two most common sentential complements of the verb prevent, as in prevent me from going and prevent me going, from a semantic point of view. The variant me going became significantly more common in British English in the twentieth century, competing with the variant with from. Mair (2002) has suggested that a similar phenomenon may be incipient with semantically similar verbs like hinder and stop, signalling a more general grammatical change that is restricted to British English. With data from the British National Corpus, the article proposes a semantic distinction, a consequence of the recent competition, in order to partially explain the variation. The distinction links the notion of hypotheticality to the -ing clause in the prepositional variant, whereas the -ing clause without from expresses a realized event, or an existing property of the object NP of prevent.
Published online: 28 October 2010