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I learned English mainly through experience, not much through the learning of rules. This makes it hard to give a generic title (better than "can I do this here"), to tag correctly, and to search for similar questions, so my apologies if this is duplicate. My question seems similar to this one, but I'm not sure if it's the same.

This sentence feels correct:

We recommend generic error messages which do not reveal whether the username exists.

It feels slightly nicer to add the verb "to use" after "recommend", but not enough to make me feel like it's wrong without it. With the verb, I would say:

We recommend to use generic error messages which do not reveal whether the username exists.
or
We recommend using generic error messages which do not reveal whether the username exists.

Is the former wrong? Is there a preference, e.g. in formal or informal settings?

  • Yes, it's wrong. The verb "recommend" does not license (permit) an infinitival complement, but only a gerund-participial one, as in your second example. An infinitival is only possible when there is an intervening noun phrase between the two verbs, e.g. "I recommend you to be nicer to Kim", or in passive constructions, e.g. "I was strongly recommended to seek medical advice". – BillJ Feb 20 at 10:40
  • 1
    @BillJ Thanks! Why not write this as an answer? – Luc Feb 20 at 10:57

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