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Context:

An exercise from “Advanced grammar in use” by M. Hewings, page 51:

Q: Which of the verbs can complete the sentence?

It is (planned/recommended) to close the library permanently from next April.

Answer key: planned

The book simply says that verbs like recommend, announce, decide, mention, propose and suggest cannot be used in “subject + passive verb + to infinitive” pattern.

Why is it so? What kind of reasons might there be for the existence of this rule? Am I misunderstanding something?

  • IMO, it's just that these verbs do not allow the pattern as Hewings says, because every verb has their own rule. There's nothing more to say. – user178049 Nov 25 '18 at 7:06
  • There is nothing wrong with recommended. At least barring further information about what the exercise was expecting in an answer. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Nov 25 '18 at 10:57
  • @user178049 I thought that rules were derived from living language and not vice versa. Otherwise, how would the process of natural language acquisition be possible? – Zak Nov 25 '18 at 14:06
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How a gerund or infinitive is interpreted depends on the verb.

With the verb "recommend" we tend to have

I recommend a bath (noun)
I recommend that you take a bath (that as conjunction)
I recommend you take a bath
I recommend taking a bath (gerund)

But not

I recommend to take a bath (infinitive)

Whereas with "Plan"

I plan a bath
I plan to take a bath (infinitive)

The gerund or the that clause are possible, but less common

I plan taking a bath
I plan that you take a bath.

These are descriptive "rules" in the sense that the "rule" is a summary of actual use, not a prescription. However, language learners may treat these "rules" as prescriptive, if it helps them to progress.

With "plan" the infinitive is the common pattern, with "recommend" it is not. In either case it is not a great idea to use the infinitive in the passive voice. I would rephase

It is recommended that the library be closed... (subjunctive "be")
It is planned that the library will close...

and prefer the active voice to either

We plan to close the library...

(Also boo and hiss to these people who are closing libraries)

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