To invite to do something

kynikos

New Member
Italian
I have looked up "to invite" on online dictionaries and they never report an intransitive usage, however writing something like "The sign invites to be careful" sounds quite normal to me (but perhaps because I'm biased by my native language), so I'm wondering whether it's grammatically correct to omit to state explicitly who is invited (the direct object), i.e. practically only implying that it is the readers in general who are invited.

If correct, what is this grammatical feature (omitting the direct object of a transitive verb) called in English in general?
 
  • kynikos

    New Member
    Italian
    Thanks guys, @se16teddy is the construct always wrong also in BE?

    While I'm at it, these are some sentences using verbs with similar or related meaning (they may not all make perfect logical sense but I'm only interested in the grammar correctness); are there any that you'd use without a direct object?

    1) The sign encourages to do the right thing.
    2) The sign incites to increase the speed.
    3) The sign instigates to commit a crime.
    4) The sign requests to turn left.
    5) The sign requires to turn right.
    6) The sign entices to make a mistake.
    7) The sign tempts to buy candies.
     

    The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Thanks guys, @se16teddy is the construct always wrong also in BE?

    While I'm at it, these are some sentences using verbs with similar or related meaning (they may not all make perfect logical sense but I'm only interested in the grammar correctness); are there any that you'd use without a direct object?

    [...]
    No, none of them.
     

    The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    The sign asks permission to turn left. Would you not accept it?

    West's Indiana session laws
    ...the prosecution of the charge may be continued if he requests to undergo treatment and is accepted for treatment by the department.
    Agreed. The reason we reject "the sign requests to turn left" is not because it violates a grammar rule, but because we know that signs can't request permission to perform actions. If you change the vocabulary it becomes perfectly fine.
     

    Tegs

    Mód ar líne
    English (Ireland)
    To me, both “the man requests to undergo treatment” and “the man requests to go left” sound very odd. I would go with something like “the man requests treatment” and “the man requests that he go left”.

    I think “request to + verb” is what bothers me. Leaving aside of course the issue of the sign, which we all agree makes no sense.
     

    kynikos

    New Member
    Italian
    Got it, omitting the direct object for those verbs is inappropriate for that whole class of verbs, good to know.

    About the "request" case, the WordReference definition also provides these examples:
    "I request to be excused." [~ + to + verb]
    "He requested me to leave." [~ + object + to + verb]
    So I guess "He requests to undergo treatment" and "The man requests him to go left” are correct?
    For reference, I also found some related threads: 1, 2 and 3.

    Then, all my examples fail when the direct object is the person who is invited/encouraged/incited etc., but, according to the examples on WordReference and other online resources, some of them do work when the direct object is the action itself (and therefore the addressees are unspecified), can you please confirm?
    1) The sign encourages good behaviour.
    2) The sign incites a riot.
    3) The sign instigates crime.
    4) The officer requested a left turn.
    5) The sign requires a right turn.
    I couldn't make "Invite", "entice" and "tempt" work in this way though.
     
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