I wrote a line in an exam

Media should be controlled to prevent misuse.

But later I thought "to prevent" is modifying "Media". So I should not have written this because I was trying to say "Media should be controlled so that authority can prevent misuse". But my friends are saying it is a correct sentence. But i dont know why? "to" is working here like "in order to". is this a reason for this?

  • It's not clear the misuse of what they are trying to prevent. I think "Media should be controlled to prevent it from misuse." sounds a lot clearer and better. – Michael Rybkin May 4 '17 at 13:14
  • When you say "media", do you mean "the media", i.e. the organisations that broadcast news information (newspapers, magazines, tv channels, radio shows etc.), or do you mean something else? If you mean "the media", I would use a "the". – SteveES May 4 '17 at 13:26
  • Your friends are right (it's not modifying "media"). The clause "to prevent abuse" is a purpose adjunct in clause structure and "should be controlled" is a 'bare' passive. And you're right that "to prevent abuse" has the same meaning as "in order to prevent misuse". . – BillJ May 4 '17 at 15:33
  • The infinitive is a purpose infinitive. The test is whether one can substitute in order to for the to infinitive marker. If so, it's a purpose infinitive subordinate clause normally modifying the entire clause it's in. Here it comments on the motives of the agent of control (who is conveniently unmentioned, by virtue of the agentless passive be controlled). – John Lawler Jun 5 '17 at 19:19

It's not clear the misuse of what you are trying to prevent. But judging by the context, you're probably talking about the misuse of the media. So, I would rewrite your sentence to make that point clearer:

The media should be controlled to prevent its misuse.

Now, the sentence sounds just perfect.

| improve this answer | |
  • I don't think your rephrasing is quite perfect, as I'm not sure it really makes sense. I would rephrase to either: "...to prevent its misuse." or "...to prevent it from being misused." – SteveES May 4 '17 at 13:30
  • 1
    Right, "to prevent its misuse" sounds best. That's what I wanted to write in the first place, but then got carried away trying to come up with something fancier. I'll change it. – Michael Rybkin May 4 '17 at 13:33

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.