I've seen the following construction of a passive:

I can't stand being kept waiting.

Can I always use being to construct a passive like the above example?

I won't allow being taken away.

Does this work?

  • 3
    The passive gerund is fine, but it needs a subject; allow doesn't work like stand = endure – StoneyB on hiatus Dec 7 '15 at 14:41
  • 2
    Ah, okay, like I won't allow myself being taken away? – Alejandro Dec 7 '15 at 14:43
  • 4
    Yes, that's grammatical. But it's a rare use with first person and future reference; an infinitival is more likely, and should be preferred: "I won't allow myself to be taken away." – StoneyB on hiatus Dec 7 '15 at 14:52
  • Thank you. Could you provide an answer with more examples? I'm quite interested. – Alejandro Dec 7 '15 at 14:53
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    It's a complicated matter; I'll try to work something up when I can find the time, if somebody else doesn't pop in. In the meantime you might take a look at the Wikipedia article on Control. – StoneyB on hiatus Dec 7 '15 at 15:26

I won't allow being taken away.

This sentence doesn't work for me, but I think the problem with it is semantic rather than syntactic; that is, the problem is that it doesn't make sense.

"I won't allow [gerund phrase]" means "I forbid people to [infinitive phrase]". But "to be taken away" is not something that people choose to do (since it's not really "doing" anything); so it doesn't make sense to "forbid" them from doing it.

This is the same reason that we rarely combine the passive voice with the imperative mood; it makes sense to say, "Go away!", but not to say, "Be taken away!"

Incidentally, note that, in this respect, "allow [gerund phrase]" is different from "allow [object] [infinitive phrase]"; something like

I won't allow the students to be taken away.

is perfectly meaningful: it means that the speaker will prevent anyone from taking the students away.

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  • After I'd seen my example again, I realised it makes no sense. – Alejandro Dec 21 '15 at 12:32

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