The pattern in Longman or ODO is as following

to prod someone into doing something

However, there is another pattern used commonly in the examples in ODO as following

to prod someone to do something

My questions :

  1. Is the second structure non-standard English even though is it common?

  2. Is this expression formal or informal?

  3. Is there difference between "to encourage someone" or "to prod someone into doing something" in terms of meaning?

Example sentence I wrote:

Government has created a new scheme in order to prod people into using more electricity-efficient home appliances by decreasing taxes on those products and provides incentives for companies to encourage them invest on more energy efficiency technologies to save energy in the next decade.


This is a cattle prod:

enter image description here

It's an electrified metal rod that someone can use to help herd cattle by giving them a little zap to get them moving in the direction you want. Note this doesn't injure the cattle, but it is uncomfortable.

In the same way, "to prod" someone is figuratively like giving them a nudge with a stick. So you can prod someone into doing something, or you can prod them to do something. Either is fine.

However in your example sentence this metaphor does not work. Remember that "to prod" implies negative reinforcement while your example is of positive reinforcement. So you want a verb that goes with the plan to give customers something good to encourage them to go along with the government's plan: bribe, wheedle, cajole, entice, induce, tempt, inveigle, persuade, and various others.

Personally, I'd go with entice.

  • Even though I heard about negative reinforcement, I could not get the link with "to prod somebody into doing something" because for example dictionaries simply defines it "to encourage someone to take action, especially when they are being slow or unwilling"
    – Mrt
    Dec 31 '16 at 2:42
  • @Mrt we say "a picture is worth a thousand words".
    – Andrew
    Dec 31 '16 at 2:45
  • Sure it is. I just couldn't get its deep meaning. to me it is good word to use because people may be unwilling to take attention this kind of issues such as energy efficiency.
    – Mrt
    Dec 31 '16 at 3:02

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