Please imagine a queen (a king's wife) or an authority's wife "helps" him to come to power in a country. Which one of the following self made sentence works better here:

a- His wife made him come to power.

b- His wife led him to come to power.

c- His wife prompted him to come to power.

d- His wife caused him to come to power.

For me, all the choices above work properly excepting the choice 'd'. It is somehow off. I have no idea if I can explain it, but I think there is a force behind "cause". In my opinion no achievement would be obtained forcefully while one doesn't want it themselves.

  • 3
    Only caused works with "to come to power" because "come to power" is not understood to be a volitional or motivated act. If you change it to seek power then the sentence talks about motivating him and then all four become possible.
    – TimR
    Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 12:37
  • If you intended to say that the authoritie's wife helped him get to the power, I think "led" would sound better, Lead = to lead, guide or conduct someone/something. But if I was to use "Lead" in your context, I'd rather take "come to" off. That's how I'd phrase it: His wife led him to power.
    – Davyd
    Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 12:40
  • 1
    My vote's with TRomano's comment above - but otherwise, none of these expressions sounds right in BrE; 'helped' or 'assisted' would be more appropriate in all four, as they are currently formulated.
    – Bamboo
    Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 13:13
  • @TRomano could you possible ease your answer and tell me about it in more detail? Unfortunately, I couldn't get much out of your response.
    – A-friend
    Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 13:25

1 Answer 1


The phrase "to come to power" is semantically analogous to "to be voted into office". Coming to power is not something someone does in the sense of performing an action. Rather, it is something that happens with respect to them.

If we say:

His wife caused him to be voted into office.

we would mean that his wife had influenced the voting in some manner. She did not act upon him directly but indirectly; she acted upon those who voted. It is similar to "She caused the house to be painted". The house isn't doing anything. The house is passive. She had someone paint the house. She influenced the election. She did not make him do something.

If we say:

His wife led him to be voted into office.

the meaning is not very clear at all. We can lead a lamb to be slaughtered, but can we really lead a person to be voted into office? She might have led his campaign. She might have led him to victory. But did she lead him to be voted for? This is semantically a marginal case. It is not really idiomatic. We normally "lead someone to do something", and being voted for is not something a candidate can do.

The same is true with prompt. We prompt someone to do something. For example, we can prompt someone to volunteer. But we cannot prompt someone to be tattooed. We can prompt them to get a tattoo, or to allow themselves to be tattooed. There must be a volitional element in the complement, something the person who is prompted is capable of doing.


His wife made him (to) be voted into office.

That too does not make good sense. The pattern is used in contemporary English like this: "to make someone {do something}". The complement of make ('him') is the one who performs the action in the infinitive phrase. But being voted for is not something he can himself do. In centuries past, however, made s.o./s.t. to be + pp. was used like "caused ... to be". But we don't use the verb in that way nowadays.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .