Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Specific Grammar Exercises/Enable + Infinitive

Academic writing - useful structures often wrongly used: Enable + Infinitive


Problem: Students often have trouble using it both in terms of grammar and sense.

Remedy: Think of "enable" as "to make it possible for".


>>> He stood on a box enabling him to reach the shelf.
(He stood on a box……making it possible for……him to reach the shelf)

>>> The prize money enabled her to buy a new car.
(The prize money……made it possible for……her to buy a new car)

>>> Substituting other words for the difficult expression had enabled
the students to use it correctly.
(Substituting other words for the difficult expression……had made it
possible for……the students to use it correctly)

Notes: What grammatical structure is used with “enable” in these examples? Look at what comes immediately after it. And what is the next thing after that? Is there another verb used? If so, what form is it in?




Rewrite the following, giving the same information in a sentence using “enable”…….

The city council is going to hold a competition which will make it possible for architects to show off their designs for a new town hall.

Please write your answer here:[ANSWER]

Free: (invent a complete example of your own) [ANSWER]

When you've rewritten the sentences, check further down the page to see if they're the same as the suggested answers..............


The structure is “enable + object + full infinitive”. So:

1) The city council is going to hold a competition which will
enable architects to show off………


1) The city council is going to hold a competition enabling.....

The second is an example of a present participle active being used as a linking device. This is dealt with (discussed and examined) elsewhere on this site.

2) Well, that’s up to you (your choice or responsibility). Just make sure you used “enable + object + full infinitive".

Photo Album:

Graffiti wall art, in Brighton. Where is Brighton? (Clue: It's not in the north. It's not inland.)


It's on the south coast of England.

Language note:

on the south coast of.... (It's beside the sea.)

in the north of.... (It's inside the country. Example: Newcastle is in the north of England.)

north of.... (It's outside the country. Example: Scotland is north of England.)

Do you get it?

basement - part of a house which is below ground

chimney - structure to carry smoke away from an indoor fire

deafening - very loud

hammer - very common tool you might use to knock a nail into the wall when hanging up a picture (or to smash something!)

scream - shout of terror

demolished - destroyed

brick - rectangular block of baked earth used for building

medallion - piece of metal like a coin, worn around the neck

medal - similar, but awarded as a prize, in the Olympics, for example

ribbon - long thin piece of material, maybe used to hang a medal or medallion from?

A married couple, who had bought a new house, decided to convert the basement into a games room for their teenage sons. They surveyed the room and space and saw that there was a huge fireplace and chimney standing against one wall. “That’ll have to go,” said the man. “It’s taking up far too much space”.

“Yes,” agreed his wife. “You’ll have to knock it all down”

The next morning the house was filled with a deafening ‘bang, bang, bang’ as he swung his huge hammer and knocked down the fireplace and chimney. Suddenly the wife heard a horrific scream come from down below. Running down the basement stairs she threw open the door and discovered her husband standing there, white as a sheet, in front of the demolished chimney. And there, sitting in a pile of bricks where the fireplace had been, was a skeleton.

“It was inside the chimney,” he gasped. “It just sort of… fell out!”

“Oh my goodness,” his wife responded. “How awful. What’s that around it’s neck?” She asked, pointing at the gold medallion that hung there, suspended from a blue ribbon.

“It’s some sort of medal,” responded the man, bending over the skeleton. “And it says……” he told her as he wiped away the dirt from the medal’s surface, “…… it says…… ‘National Hide and Seek Champion, 1957’.”


Hide and seek - a game where people hide and another person tries to find them. The winner is the one who can stay undiscovered for the longest time.

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