5

There's a fence to stop people (from) walking on the grass.

The Murphy's grammar says that from is optional in the structure "stop somebody (from) doing." But for me this particular sentence without from sounds fishy. What about you?

Other sentences sound fine without from:

You can't stop me doing what I want.

  • Can you clarify? Are you saying "There's a fence to stop people from walking on the grass" sounds fishy? Both myself and @PeterShore think it sounds better with "from". oerkelens thinks it sounds better without. I think BrE allows the drop more than AmE. – CoolHandLouis Feb 24 '14 at 16:20
  • 1
    @CoolHandLouis: That's embarrassing, but I wanted to say without from. But anyway, the underlying grammar that is being uncovered in the answers helps a lot. – Graduate Feb 24 '14 at 18:47
  • No prob. I thought that's what you meant since you were contrasting with the next sentence, and I think PeterShore read it the same way. – CoolHandLouis Feb 24 '14 at 21:02
  • To my American ear, your second example seems no different from the first. Neither one sounds good without the from. And you can't stop me from saying that. – Brian Hitchcock Jun 12 '15 at 10:55
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+50

I think the reason that the sentence without from sounds fishy in

There's a fence to stop people walking on the grass,

is that this sentence is ambiguous. It could mean

There's a fence to stop people from walking on the grass,

or

There's a fence to stop people who are walking on the grass.

3

I feel there is a difference between

There's a fence to stop people from walking on the grass.

People are not walking on the grass now, and the fence is there to make sure they won't do it either.

I would probably phrase this as:

There's a fence to keep people from walking on the grass.

It seems more logical to use keep than stop as I presume the fence was not put there while people were walking on the grass.

That would lead to an interesting situation without from:

There's a fence to keep people walking on the grass.

In which case, obviously, I have locked people up, and I want them to keep walking on the grass (and possibly sell tickets to people that want to see them).

There's a fence to stop people walking on the grass.

It is people's habit to walk on the grass, that is bad for the grass, so I put up a fence to stop them.

So, I agree that on one hand stop ... from and simply stop convey more or less the same meaning and from is in that particular case optional. I also agree that the version with from sounds a bit off, and I'd prefer the version without. When using from, I would use a different verb (keep), and then all of a sudden from is no longer optional!

  • I think use of keep from as an analogy is confusing. Keep from is a phrasal verb that means something very different from keep. Stop from is not similarly structured. It is not semantically distinct from stop. – bib Feb 25 '14 at 16:57
2

Well, this is surprising. The FreeDictionary describes stop someone from doing something as an idiom.

stop someone from doing something (idiom) - to prevent someone from doing something.

If you mean preventing someone from doing something, I think it better go with from.

In your example, the sentence without from would also mean that the fence is there stopping the people who are walking on the grass. Something like...

There's a road to help joggers jogging on the hill.

1

This is just a partial answer to help out you or anyone else to dig deeper into this issue.

(I don't have the time to research more, but simply wanted to contribute what I found.)

1 Actually, the thesis name is "PREVENT AND STOP COMPLEMENTATION CLAUSES: A CORPUS-BASED INVESTIGATION OF 19TH, 20TH AND 21ST CENTURY AMERICAN ENGLISH", by TERESA WAI SEE ONG, University of Birmingham, 2011.)

0

to prevent someone from doing something or to stop someone (from) doing something are absolutely normal verb constructions. Whereas "from" after to stop can be dropped, it is maintained after to prevent.

  • I've found these sentences on Google News: a) "...if rules and regulations prevent them doing what they want." b) "...role of politicians to make laws to prevent them doing it again." – Graduate Feb 21 '14 at 19:59
  • In British English they prefer "to prevent someone from doing something". – rogermue Feb 21 '14 at 20:03
  • But "prevent him/her from doing" always goes with from. It seems that for him/her there must be from, but for them it can be omitted. – Graduate Feb 21 '14 at 20:03
  • Are you re-declaring OP's "Murphy's Grammar" rule that "from" can be dropped after "stop"? I'm not seeing how this addresses OP's original question. – CoolHandLouis Feb 24 '14 at 16:44

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