1.The authorities forbade entering the park because of a bush fire.

2.In many countries, they don't allow smoking in public places.

3.The plumber recommended buying a new water heater.

4.The help desk advised checking the "Advanced Settings" option.

I know it is odd to use infinitive as an object of such verbs, but I have never been taught the reason about it. However, I think the reason is from that it could be read in a different way. For example, if the 4 sentence is rewritten as The help desk advised to check the "Advanced Settings" option, we would think that to check is not the object of advise, and advise is used as an intransitive verb which is only modifying The help desk, so that I think it must be avoided to use infinitive with such verbs.

Might my thinking be correct?

  • 1. and 2. are ungrammatical since "forbid" and "allow" do not license gerund-participial clauses as complement. In 2, "smoking" is not a verb but a noun. 3. and 4. are OK - a complex infinitival is also possible in both, as in "I recommend you buy a new heater" / "I advise you to check the options".
    – BillJ
    Mar 1, 2018 at 10:22
  • @ BillJ I brought the sentences from grammaring.com/…
    – GKK
    Mar 1, 2018 at 10:25
  • 2
    @BillJ - Maybe I'm just misunderstanding you, but what do you think is ungrammatical about #1 and #2 exactly? In my experience, "allow gerund" is perfectly normal, and "forbid gerund" sounds, if not that common, not wrong either.
    – stangdon
    Mar 1, 2018 at 14:50

2 Answers 2


In fact, it's not odd to use an infinitive after, say, advise. This particular verb can be followed by "to infinitive" (e.g. I think I'd advise him to leave the company). It can also be followed by a gerund (e.g. I advise waiting until tomorrow). It's all about verb patterns actually. We'll use advise + object + to infinitive but advise + gerund (when you don't mention who you give advice to).

To forbid can be used with both a gerund and an infinitive too. Compare: He's embarrassed about it because he forbade me to tell anyone (again, forbid + object + to infinitive). They forbid parking in this area (forbid + gerund).

As for to allow and to recommend, the logic is the same:

  1. Do you think Dad will allow you to go to Jamie's party? / They don't allow smoking.
  2. I recommend you to buy this book. / I recommend writing your feelings down on paper.
  • I agree with you, but it is not what I want to know, because I already know well that 'advise + object + to infinitive' is possible. I want to know what 'advise + to infinitive' could be read as, if 'to infinitive' is not the object of the verb advise. In my opinion, the verb could act as this verb as in "It writes well." I mean an agent is not unknown.
    – GKK
    Mar 1, 2018 at 9:51
  • For example, if I read "the help desk advised to check ...", the first thing I think about is that the person doesn't know that the gerund should be used after "advised" here. If you want to use "advise" as an intransitive verb in this case, then the part "to check" means "in order to check"... So, the help desk advised something (we don't know what) in order to check the "Advanced Settings" option... It doesn't make much sense as you can see.
    – Enguroo
    Mar 1, 2018 at 11:10

There are two possible usages for verbs like forbid:

verb + object - the object is something that is forbidden
verb + object + to-infinitive - the object is somebody being told not to do something.

The object of the first usage can be almost any noun form, with the exception of a to-infinitive. This may be because it might be confused with the second usage.

The Quran forbids eating pork - gerund, which is a noun form of a verb
The Quran forbids pork - simple noun
The Quran forbids to eat pork - sounds wrong... to-infinitive is a noun form of a verb, but it is not allowed as the object in this context
The Quran forbids muslims to eat pork - simple noun as object, followed by to-infinitive

As this NGram shows, usage of the to-infinitive in this context was virtually non-existent up until about 1970, and most instances since then appear to be in publications written by foreign authors.


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