Verb Patterns

A transitive verb is one that has an object. The normal order of words in an English sentence is subject + verb + object.

  • Alice likes sweets. (Subject – Alice, Verb – likes, Object – sweets)
  • The principal punished the boy. (Subject – principal, Verb – punished, Object – boy)
  • The monk burned himself. (Subject – monk, Verb – burned, Object – himself)

Alice likes …what? Sweets

The principal punished …whom? The boy

The answer to the question what or whom is the direct object. Notice also the use of the reflexive pronoun (e.g. myself, himself, herself, themselves etc.) as an object in the third sentence.

Subject + verb + object + adverb particle

Some verbs are followed by adverb particles. Examples are: put on, take off, give away, bring up, call in etc. Sometimes the particle is detached from the verb and put after the object.

  • He threw it away.
  • They called the visitor in.
  • He put his coat on.
  • His grandmother brought him up.
  • You must send it back.

Note that the particle is put after the object when the object is a personal pronoun or when it is comparatively short.

The difference between an adverb particle and a preposition is that while the particle is closely tied to its verb, the preposition is closely tied to the noun or pronoun which it controls. The following are used only as adverb particles and never as prepositions – away, back, out, backward, forward, upward, downward etc. But on, off, in, up, down, to, from etc., are used as particles and prepositions.

When the object is long or when it has to be made prominent, the adverb particle comes before the object.

  • The chief guest gave away the prizes.
  • He put on an air of innocence.
  • The sailors put out the fire in the hold of the ship.
  • We will not throw away anything useful.