Scientific English as a Foreign Language
Answers to Lesson of November 21, 1997
One of the most frequent errors from French and German speakers is:
"The instrument allows to measure..."
"Allow" is usually used as a transitive verb, which means that it takes a direct object. The phrase above should read:
"The instrument allows one (or us, the student, the researcher, you, etc.) to measure..."
"Allow" is more difficult than some purely transitive verbs, in that sometimes it is transitive and sometimes not. Here are the definitions of "allow" from the Random House CD-ROM Dictionary:
1. to give permission to or for; permit: to allow a student to be absent; No swimming allowed.
2. to let have; give as one's share; grant as one's right: to allow a person $100 for expenses.
3. to permit by neglect, oversight, or the like: to allow a door to remain open.
4. to admit; acknowledge; concede: to allow a claim.
5. to take into consideration, as by adding or subtracting; set apart: to allow an hour for changing trains.
6. Older Use. to say; think.
7. Archaic. to approve; sanction.
8. to permit something to happen or to exist; admit (often fol. by of ) : to spend more than one's budget allows; a premise that allows of only one conclusion.
9. allow for, to make concession or provision for: to allow for breakage.
Try these excercises.
1. I can't go on vacation that week. My boss won't allow me.
2. In Paris, it's best to allow two hours to get from Gare de Lyon to Gare de Nord.
3. This procedure allows one to replicate DNA.
4. I will allow you to give me the report a few days late.
5. No late abstracts will be allowed.
An electron is sure hard to please.
When spread out, it sometimes will freeze.
It's still claustrophobic,
And runs off when put in a squeeze.
-D. Morin et al.
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Created April 30, 1998, by Nancy Burnham and Fred Hutson.