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Dr Grammar

protect someone from something

Posted by josephtam   9 Apr 2014 3 44 pm

Dear Alex,

I hear the following sentence form an ESLPod,

"While the Constitution was being written, many people argued that it did not actually protect the rights (or freedoms) of citizens or protect citizens ****from having**** the
government take away their rights."

I don't understand the meaning/usage of adding "having" before "the government taking away their rights".

Is the "having" unnecessary? Is it ok to say " protect citizens from the government taking away their rights"?



Posted by alex stringer   10 Apr 2014 10 30 am

Hi Joseph

Yes, good point. The essential pattern is protect + object + from + noun / noun phrase

An umbrella protects you from the rain.
Safety helmets protect construction workers from falling objects.

When something protects somebody from somebody doing something
it is common to use the construction you quote:

protect [somebody] from having [somebody] [doing] [something]

The 'have' means 'experience'. More examples:

The contract protects the tenant from having the landlord increasing / increase the rent suddenly.
The fence protects residents from having people walking across their gardens.
The curtains protect you from having people staring through your windows.

Similar ideas can be expressed with 'prevent', but without the use of 'have':

The constitution did not actually prevent the government from taking away citizens' rights.
The contract prevents the landlord from increasing the rent suddenly.
The fence prevents people from walking across residents' gardens.
The curtains prevent people from staring through your windows.

Hope this helps


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