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Do these sentences make sense and can I use "keep from" here?

1 She wants to keep everyone from knowing the truth.

2 she wants to make everyone not (to) know the truth.

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    The first sentence makes more sense and flows better than the second one.
    – Joe Kerr
    Dec 18, 2020 at 14:50

1 Answer 1

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Sentence 1 is fully correct and idiomatic. Sentence 2 is awkward, and not something a native spoeaker would say or write. The form "Keep X from " is generally valld, adn "keep" here means "prevent".

The form "Make X not " works for some verbs but not others. The negative form (with not) is in some cases more awkward than the positive form.

  • I want to make John fight. (This is fully natural.)

  • I want to make John not fight. (This is slightly awkward.)

  • I want to make everyone not fight. (This is rather more awkward, and should be rephrased.)

I don't know any good rule for when this form works well, and when it does not. When "make ... not" is akweard, a rephrasign with "prevent" often works better.

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  • and what about if a put "to" after "not" in the second sentence?
    – coolguy
    Dec 18, 2020 at 15:19
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    @coolguy That doesn't help. If anything it makes sentence 2 rather less natural. Dec 18, 2020 at 15:23
  • For example, what should I say instead of "they are trying to make you not change your mind"?
    – coolguy
    Dec 18, 2020 at 15:25
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    @coolguy "They are trying to keep you from changing your mind." The verb "prevent" could be used instead of "keep". Or "They are trying to force you not to change your mind." or "They are trying to make sure that you don't change your mind." Any of those would work. Dec 18, 2020 at 15:32

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