<i>Prevent</i> and the battle of the -<i>ing</i> clauses

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The article discusses the variation between the two most common sentential complements of the verb <i>prevent</i>, as in <i>prevent</i> <i>me</i> <i>from</i> <i>going</i> and <i>prevent me going</i>, from a semantic point of view. The variant <i>me going</i> became significantly more common in British English in the twentieth century, competing with the variant with <i>from</i>. Mair (2002) has suggested that a similar phenomenon may be incipient with semantically similar verbs like <i>hinder</i> and <i>stop</i>, signalling a more general grammatical change that is restricted to British English. With data from the <i>British National Corpus</i>, the article proposes a semantic distinction, a consequence of the recent competition, in order to partially explain the variation. The distinction links the notion of hypotheticality to the -<i>ing</i> clause in the prepositional variant, whereas the -<i>ing</i> clause without <i>from</i> expresses a realized event, or an existing property of the object NP of <i>prevent</i>.


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