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Archive Language Point 83

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Make, let, allow

Helen in her parents kitchen

Make - active form

The verb 'make' has several meanings in English. When Helen says 'I can't make people call', she means that she cannot force people to call; she does not have the power to control or change the situation.

When 'make' means 'force' or 'control', in the active form, it is followed by an object and the bare infinitive (infinitive without 'to').

 subject  make  object  infinitive without 'to'
 I  (can't) make  people  call

Be careful: in the active form, 'make' is NOT followed by 'to', and it is NOT followed by an -ing form:
 The teacher made us to do our homework - WRONG
 The teacher made us doing our homework - WRONG
 The teacher made us do our homework - RIGHT

Make - passive form

When 'make' means 'force', in the passive from, it is followed by the infinitive with 'to'.

 subject  was/were made  infinitive with 'to'  complement
 I  was made  to repeat  the exercise

Let

If you 'let' somebody do something, you give permission or you allow them to do something. Helen says 'if you want him to move in, you'll have to let him have a discount.'

When 'let' means 'allow' or 'give permission', it is followed by an object and the bare infinitive (infinitive without 'to').

 subject  let  object  infinitive without 'to'  complement
 You  ('ll have to) let  him  have  a discount

Be careful: 'let' is NOT followed by 'to', and it is NOT followed by an -ing form:
 The teacher let us to leave early - WRONG
 The teacher let us leaving early - WRONG
 The teacher let us leave early - RIGHT

Allow

Allow has a similar meaning to 'let'. When Helen's dad says 'Helen, you know I can't allow it', he means that he can't give permission.

Allow can be used in 2 ways:
 1. It is followed by an object. The object can be a noun, or it can be an -ing form.

 subject  allow  object  complement
 She
 He
 won't allow
 doesn't allow
 a party
 smoking
 in this house
 in the office

 2. It is followed by an object (noun or pronoun) and the infinitive with 'to'.

 subject  allow  object  infinitive with 'to'  complement
 She  won't allow  us  to have  a party

Be careful: in this pattern, the object is NOT followed by an -ing form:

 The teacher allowed us leaving early - WRONG
 The teacher allowed us to leaving early - WRONG
 The teacher allowed us to leave early - RIGHT

Passive forms are also possible.

 Smoking is not allowed in this building
 You are not allowed to smoke in this building

Vocabulary

knock a bit off
reduce slightly

to cost a fortune
to be very expensive

keep on (v)
continue
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