I think that "I leave her" could have two meanings:

  1. I cause her to leave.
  2. I cause her to be left.

I think that sentence #1 is less common, but a valid interpretation. Am I correct?

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    I leave her cannot be used to mean "I cause her to leave". I leave her X means I cause her to have X after I depart (typically after my death, in my will). Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 16:24

2 Answers 2


Leave X means:

  • you are going away from X,

  • you are not taking X with you if X is an object.

  • if X is not specified it defaults to "where I'm at currently" - omitting X never refers to an object (you would have to say leave it).

Leave X Y (or leave Y to/for X) means:

  • you are going away from Y,

  • you are not taking Y with you (if Y is a place you have to say at Y or in Y),

  • you are expecting X to take Y if Y is an object - if not at the moment you leave Y, sometime later when it is convenient or possible for X.

Leave never means make or cause someone to leave.


It doesn't really have two meanings, just two variations of the same meaning.

I left the bookstore (= I walked out of the bookstore)

I left her by the bookstore (= I walked away from her)

I left the book in the store (= I walked away from the book)

In each case, I am the one doing the action, not the object or person. I think you may be confusing this with the passive voice "to be left"

She was left by the bookstore (= she stayed while someone else walked away)

The book was left in the store (= the book stayed while someone left)

If you want to indicate that she left, unwillingly, then you would say something like.

I made her leave the bookstore.

I made her leave me by the bookstore.

I made her leave the book in the store.

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