What is the difference between the following structures:

Power is liable to be abused.

Although I cannot find the sentence of

Power is liable to being abused.

I can find some other sentences in which "liable to being" was used.

For example

Swimming animals are liable to being hit by boats.

I can feel that the word power as a subject is something affects something else. However, the sentence is passive voice. On the other hand, the word animals are object affected by action in terms of meaning.

So I am confused when should I use "...liable to be V3..." and "...liable to being V3..."


From Google Ngram results I can see for some verbs both form is used such as " liable to be called/ being called" or "liable to be taken/being taken".


1 Answer 1


Liable to is a phrase meaning something is likely to happen, where to is a preposition, not part of the infinitive to be. So here you should always you being instead of be because you need to form a gerund phrase. Thus the first sentence you have is wrong and should read, "Power is liable to being abused." Here are some other examples of the same issue.

  • Be careful with the word always: The picnic is liable to be spoiled by rain. Violators are liable to be punished with imprisonment and fine. They are liable to be dealt with by the police under public order and criminal legislation. Sep 23, 2018 at 15:05
  • I would say those are all incorrect as well. A lot of people misuse this phrase, perhaps. Sep 23, 2018 at 16:17
  • google "liable to be" - ablout 36M of those "incorrect" ))) Sep 23, 2018 at 16:24
  • 1
    Ever heard about a bare infinitive? Sep 23, 2018 at 19:38
  • 2
    I think the OP's version is correct and your version is wrong. I know I would say, "Power is liable to be abused" (not "to being abused"). Check out the ngram.
    – J.R.
    Sep 24, 2018 at 0:11

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