Language tip of the week: approve

Posted by on May 29, 2014

Learn English with Macmillan DictionaryIn this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. These tips are usually based on areas of English which learners find difficult, e.g. spelling, grammar, collocation, synonyms, etc.

This week’s language tip helps with the verb approve:

When approve means ‘to have a positive feeling towards something or someone’, it is followed by of, not by a direct object.
✗ I do not approve violence.
✓ I do not approve of violence.
✗ It is easy for us to say ‘I don’t approve euthanasia‘, because we are not in pain.
✓ It is easy for us to say ‘I don’t approve of euthanasia‘, because we are not in pain.

You can also use the pattern approve of someone doing something (not ‘approve someone to do something’):
✗ In Turkish society, people do not approve parents to get divorced.
✓ In Turkish society, people do not approve of parents getting divorced.

However, when approve means ‘to give official agreement to something’, it is used with a direct object.
The General Assembly approved a resolution ordering Saddam’s troops to withdraw immediately.

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