I have this question from a TOEFL iBT test :

The flexibility of film allows the artist ____ unbridled imagination to the animation of cartoon characters.

with these 4 choices:

(A) to bring
(B) bringing
(C) is brought
(D) brings

I am pretty sure that the answer is either to bring or bringing, I now both of them is correct, but what is the better ? and how to know that? I mean why there is one of them is better than the other ?

  • 3
    Actually, only to bring is correct. You could use "bringing" if the object-phrase for allow did not have a specific actor in it: ... allows bringing unbridled imagination.... I'll have to let someone else go into the reasoning behind that, though.
    – Hellion
    Commented Apr 6, 2013 at 20:53
  • @Hellion Put it as a reply! They'll edit/supplement it.
    – hjpotter92
    Commented Apr 6, 2013 at 21:06

1 Answer 1


In your case, allow is used as "allow somebody to do something"; to bring is the correct answer.
You could also use allow as "allow something"; in that case, you could use a gerund, as in "We don't allow smoking."

The difference is that in the first case the direct object is the person who is allowed to do something; in the second case, the direct object is the action that is allowed.

  • kiam, interesting observation; to some extent one can generalize this rule, though. For example: "We don't run across smoking", but Jane Austin would have said "We don't run across to smoke". Am I getting confused?
    – user114
    Commented Apr 7, 2013 at 10:30
  • As phrasal verb, run across is used as "run across somebody" or "run across something"; in that case, I would say that "run across to smoke" is not possible. "Run across" could also mean "run from a side to the other side," and in that case "run across to smoke" would mean "run from one side to the other side with the purpose of going to smoke."
    – apaderno
    Commented Apr 7, 2013 at 13:33

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