"watch" is transitive, but "look at" is

English grammar and usage issues

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"watch" is transitive, but "look at" is

Unread postby Kean » 19 Oct 2007, 13:13

"Wait (for)" and "look (at)" are described as intransitive. Yet I would define them as non-idiomatic (or literal) phrasal verbs. A phrasal verb can be transitive, so why are these verbs described as intransitive???

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Unread postby Chopvac » 19 Oct 2007, 23:21

"Wait" and "look" are only transitive if used as phrasal verbs, not as regular verbs.

As transitives:
"Let's wait for him."
"Let's look for him."
"Let's look at it."

As intransitives:
"Let's wait."
"Let's look."

Regular and phrasal verbs are not the same animal.

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Re: "watch" is transitive, but "look at" is

Unread postby matthau » 25 Mar 2008, 20:24

I think, you are right, Kean. As long as these phrasal verbs aren't used idiomatically, they reveal their transitive meanings. So depending upon the preposition they can either be transitive or intransitive. For example, 'look at' I would classify as transitive, and 'look after' as intransitive. Consequently, in 'look at the boy', 'the boy' is a direct object, and in 'look after the boy', it is a prepositional one.

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