flesl.net grammar glossary::ditransitive prepositional verb

ditransitive prepositional verbs

Ditransitive prepositional verbs are a type of prepositional verb. The other type is transitive prepositional verbs. (All prepositional verbs belong to the larger category of multi-word verbs.) Here are some examples:

protect...from: Tom said he was doing everything he could to protect his children from the internet.

admit...to: Despite Harry’s influence, the committee refused to admit his son to the school.

suspect...of: Harry suspected his old friend Bill of stealing money from the golf club.

thank...for: Tom thanked his students for their gifts.

take care of: Dick and Jane took care of Tom’s parrot while he was on vacation.

lose touch with: Since she got married, Jill has lost touch with most of her old friends.

• analysis of clauses with ditransitive prepositional verbs:

- clauses of this type have the following structure: [subject + verb phrase + object (direct) + preposition + object (prepositional) ]

- for example:



his students


their gifts,


verb phrase

object (direct)


object (prepositional)

- notice that in this sort of clause the verb phrase is always divided into two parts, the verb word and the particle, which are separated by the direct object. This is similar to what happens in the case of transitive phrasal verbs, except that, here, there is no option of placing a noun-phrase object after the particle.

• idiomaticity etcetera:
- As is the case with transitive prepositional verbs, the majority of ditransitive prepositionals are non-idiomatic. Of the six examples given above, only the last two are idiomatic. The non-idiomatic character of the first four can be clearly seen by considering the following fact: in each case, the particle and the prepositional object can be dropped without making the clause or ungrammatical or changing the meaning of the verb word. (For example: Tom thanked his students.) In the case of the last two items, by contrast, dropping the preposition and its object would result in nonsense. There is, moreover, a striking difference between the non-idiomatic and the idiomatic items. In the former, the occupant of the object position is variable; in the latter it is fixed and the new, idiomatic meaning comes from fusing of verb and object (just as it comes, in the case of phrasal verbs from the fusing of verb and particle.)