Submitted by lainiewhitney  •  December 3, 2009

Prohibits...to be or from being?

When using the word prohibits... which is correct?

...which prohibits fences 4 ft in height from being erected ... or ...which prohibits fences 4 ft in height to be erected

...which prohibits any fence from being constructed... or ...which prohibits any fence to be constructed

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See if this helps:

I have a broken leg, which prohibits me from running. (Yes, I would substitute "prevents" for "prohibits" but the analogy is sound.)

In California, state law prohibits you from using your cell phone while driving.
<i>or</i>
In California, state law prohibits you to use your cell phone while driving.

I would argue the first use is less unwieldy, despite the successive gerunds ("using" and "driving").

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In general, it's "...prohibits you from..." and "...allows you to..." Similarly, it would be "...stops/bans/keeps you from..." and "...permits you to...", but simply "...lets you (run, eat, whatever, verb without preceding 'to')..." I would suggest that in the above post, "In California, state law prohibits you TO USE [emphasis mine] your cell phone while driving." is incorrect.

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