I found

This has attracted them to aim for the stars.

in a text written by a non-native speaker of English, and I haven't been able to find any support for this construction when I've Googled it.

To me, it sounds very odd; is this – X attracts Y to VERB – a common construction in English? It's supposed to mean something along the lines of 'X entices Y to VERB' or 'X encourages Y to VERB', so in this case:

This has enticed/encouraged them to aim for the stars.

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    I find it weird, I was expecting to sth/sb rather than to do sth... Could you give more context, particularly what this is? Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 15:50
  • @AndrewTobilko Well, I'm just wondering about the construction as such – whether "attract" can really be used in this construction, the way "entice" or "encourage" can. It seems from the answer below that I was right in thinking it can't :)
    – Hannah
    Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 16:15

2 Answers 2


Grammatically it may be correct, but I think it is not a correct use of "attract" in this context. You can attract someone to something, and it can mean "to lure, deceive into doing" (WordHippo). If you say:

The store is offering coffee mugs as free giveaways to attract new customers.

the fact that they are enticed into buying more is contained in the verb "attract".

With entice, the sentence would be

X entices Y into + Gerund: This has enticed them into aiming for the stars.

or as you say

X entices Y to do something

like in this example from Cambridge:

The smell of coffee enticed people to enter the shop.

Encourage would also work with to do something:

This has encouraged them to aim for the stars.

Of all the three options, Gngram gives clear preference to encouraged them to do.

  • Without knowing what "this" is, it's difficult to say if "entice" would be the right word there. It could be "inspired" instead. There's no explicit lure in the example sentence that would make me choose "entice" over "encourage" or "inspire" etc. I think "caused" would probably be the most straightforward way to express it given the lack of context.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 16:14
  • I followed the interpretation of the OP for lack of context. But it is true, there are plenty of contexts where all the three verbs can be out of place.
    – fev
    Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 16:15
  • @ColleenV Yes, both encourage and entice may be the wrong choice in certain contexts, but that wasn't my point. What I was wondering was whether "attract" could be used in this construction. I rthink fev's answer nails it :) So, thanks, fev!
    – Hannah
    Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 16:19
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    @Hannah Yes, I understand. My feedback was more about how much of the answer was focused on "entice" when there are many other words that could substitute just as effectively.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 16:22
  • @ColleenV Right, yes – I see! Thanks for your input :)
    – Hannah
    Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 16:29

You can say it - it's grammatically correct. But as you note, it's awkward.

Your suggestions for "encouraged" or "enticed" would indeed be better than "attracted".

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    I don't think it's just "awkward"; I think it's semantically incorrect. The definition of "attract" is: (of people, things, places, etc.) to pull or draw someone or something towards them, by the qualities they have, especially good ones. The example sentence is describing something pushing people toward something other than itself.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 15:46
  • @ColleenV In the definition you link to one meaning is _The government is trying to attract industry to the area _, The attraction can be toward something else. We agree that the OP's sentence is awkward, We disagree about whether or not it's semantically acceptable. Maybe I'll delete my answer. Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 16:06
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    That meaning is still "towards" something. Inspiring someone to do something is not the same thing as trying to attract them to an area by making it nice for them in some way (or pointing out nice aspects they might have not known about).
    – ColleenV
    Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 16:10

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