When I look up the verb entail in my dictionaries (Cambridge, Merriam-Webster and Longman) I get examples showing that this verb may be complemented by noun phrases (e.g. This will entail major problems) and ing-clauses (This will entail spending a lot of money), but I find no examples in which a that-clause functions as a complement. Is this because it's not syntactically "allowed", or is it a mere coincidence (so that a that-clause is, in fact, permissible in this case, only the dictionaries just haven't listed that specific construction)?

In short, I'm wondering whether examples such as the following are syntactically correct, or if that-clauses are not permissible as complements of the verb entail:

This will entail that he will be sent to prison

Their decision entailed that many people lost their jobs.

  • 1
    The simple answer is no: the verb "entail" does not license declarative content clauses (your that clauses) as complement.
    – BillJ
    Nov 6, 2021 at 8:56

1 Answer 1


In short, no.

"Entail" is used the same way as the word "involve". In many cases, the two would be interchangeable. We never say "it involves that..." either.

Your examples should really be:

This will entail being sent to prison.
This will entail a prison sentence.

Their decision entailed job losses.
Their decision entailed the loss of jobs

Having said that, I did a quick Google search and was shocked to find examples of people doing the opposite of what I'm advising.

Google ngrams don't really 'prove' anything, but this shows that cases of 'entails that...' are only a very small fraction of uses of the word 'entails'. It also indicates that such examples only began appearing in the last few decades. Looking at a few of the examples, there are other syntactical reasons why they may be allowable beyond the construction in your question.

There might be some argument that, if something is said, even if the examples are minutiae, it cannot be 'wrong'. But it is telling that no such examples can be found in dictionaries (I checked 3).

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