Chapter published in:Changing Structures: Studies in constructions and complementation
Edited by Mark Kaunisto, Mikko Höglund and Paul Rickman
[Studies in Language Companion Series 195] 2018
► pp. 31–54
Being let and allowed
The ‘let NP bare infinitive’ construction differs from other common permissive constructions, such as ‘allow NP to-infinitive’ and ‘permit NP to-infinitive’ in being exceedingly rare in the passive. That is, while somebody may well be ‘allowed to do’ something, they are very seldom ‘let do’ something. Even more seldom are they ‘let to do’ something. This chapter explores possible reasons for the rarity of both of these passive let constructions, which are contrasted with passive allow constructions. It is argued that the difference in distribution between the constructions with the two matrix verbs is related to two factors. The first is a difference in the sorts of force dynamic relations which they typically encode. The second is related to the difference in semantics between the two infinitive forms. The argument is supported by corpus data from both British and American English.
Keywords: permissives, causatives, force dynamics, enablement
Published online: 22 May 2018
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