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Which one of the following sentences does use "enable" grammatically correct?

  1. Studying different subjects enables students to broaden their horizons.
  2. Studying different subjects enables to students to broaden their horizons.

According to dictionaries, 1 must be correct but there are so many sentences on the Internet and even in native American conversations that 2 is used.

For example:

  1. Gift of $2m enables to US Squash to appoint Head National Coach

  2. Illini PRA enables to students to explore public relations field

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  • 1
    There are a lot of native English speakers out there who don't use English very well.
    – stangdon
    Apr 9 at 13:49
  • It looks like this is a more common error than I thought - here is another example: The website MedicalEducation.nl enables to students to access online medical Computer Based Training material any time and any place. ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/4262724
    – ColleenV
    Apr 9 at 14:38
  • 1
    @ColleenV That is a translation or written by Dutch people according to the list of authors, and it was published in Slovenia. There were probably no English editors on hand and it is a mistake in English. And simply not the type of mistake a native English speaker would make....
    – Lambie
    Apr 9 at 15:07
  • @Lambie Yes, I agree. It would be a typo or cut and paste error if done by someone fluent. I just didn't realize it was as common a mistake among non-native speakers as it appears to be.
    – ColleenV
    Apr 9 at 15:09
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers I don't think "enable" can take a gerund complement when it's being used in the sense of "make possible". A passport enables visiting other countries. seems like it should use object/infinitive A passport enables someone to visit other countries. A passport enables foreign travel. seems OKish although I don't like that wording. I feel like it should be "allow" not "enable". Maybe I just picked a bad example. Regardless, I'm not sure if that question is a good duplicate on ELL because it's not explicit how "allow" and "enable" are related.
    – ColleenV
    Apr 9 at 19:31
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Sentences with "enable to NOUN to VERB" are not grammatical in English.

The verb enable is transitive, and in the sense of "make possible" it takes both an object and an infinitive.

In the sentence:

Studying different subjects enables students to broaden their horizons.

the object is "students" and the infinitive is "to broaden".

In the sentence:

Studying different subjects enables to students to broaden their horizons.

the "to" as a preposition identifying the person or thing affected is unnecessary, because "enable" is transitive. We usually only need "to" as a preposition when the verb is intransitive and we want to express who or what the verb is affecting. For example:

The teacher spoke to the students.

not

The teacher spoke the students.

With an intransitive verb, we don't have to add the infinitive; "The teacher spoke." is grammatical but "The teacher threw." is not1 because throw is transitive and requires an object.

We can't form an infinitive with a noun like "students" and even if we could, we wouldn't have an object (A noun or noun phrase governed by an active transitive verb or by a preposition.) which the transitive verb "enable" requires.


1. Well, usually. In some contexts the object might be missing because it is inferred from the context. For example,

From the corner of her eye, the pitcher saw a runner trying to steal a base. She spun and threw. “Out!” yelled the umpire.

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  • @Lambie there was one thing I wasn't sure about though that maybe you can help with... Is there a word for verbs that take both an object and an infinitive? "enable" doesn't seem to be "ditransitive" like "sell" or "give" and I wasn't able to figure out what to call it.
    – ColleenV
    Apr 9 at 15:14
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    It falls under the list of causative verbs, like help, get, make, let, assist, have....all of which take a pronoun (person) or thing (noun) as an object.
    – Lambie
    Apr 9 at 15:21
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1- Studying different subjects enables students to broaden their horizons.

2- Studying different subjects enables to students to broaden their horizons.

Example1 is fine, but example 2 is not.

One must be discerning and choose reliable sources for learning materials.

As for your suspicion that the phrase 'enables to students to broaden' is used in native American conversations, I believe there could be a mistake in listening; the speaker may actually be saying 'enables the students to broaden'.

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  • To be honest, the original sentence that I head is "... enables to them to broaden their horizons". "them" refers to students. Apr 9 at 14:14

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