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    #1

    To after a verb

    As a native TEFL teacher, without all the answers, I often explain that say can be used without a personal object but one can be added after say by adding to: - I said to himÖ I explain that with the verb to tell we donít need to: - I told him never I told to him.

    Then the student inevitably asks me, ďSo, how do I know, in general, when to use to after a verb and when not to use to?Ē I know that verbs of movement require to: - I will go to Amsterdam tomorrow.

    Can anyone point me in the direction of a good web site which gives an explanation or is there a kind person out there who knows a simple basic way to explain this? Iíve been looking for a good answer to this question for months. Is there any type of rule that says X types of verbs are followed by to and Y types are never followed by to and Z types of verbs are sometimes followed by to? I have a feeling that itís not that simple.

    Any help much appreciated.


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    #2

    Re: To after a verb

    Aren't we talking Transitive versus Intransitive verbs here?

  1. konungursvia's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: To after a verb

    Quote Originally Posted by David L. View Post
    Aren't we talking Transitive versus Intransitive verbs here?
    David's answer is similar to what I was thinking of saying: it is a property of the verb itself, not the preposition or our English language in general, which prepositions, if any, are used, and of course whether the verb is thus transitive or intransitive... and if transitive, whether it takes an indirect or direct (no preposition) object. So the kids have to be told "sorry, you have to learn how to use each verb in its natural way."

  2. Soup's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: To after a verb

    Anne,

    The preposition to expresses a direction towards a destination. So,

    Ex: Go to the store <move in the direction towards the store>
    Ex: Listen to music. <listen in the direction towards the music>
    Ex: Call to him. <send sound in the direction towards a person>
    Ex: Say to her. <send words in the direction towards a person>

    Ex: Say something to her.
    Note, to doesn't come after the verb say. In fact, it isn't even part of the verb at all. It's a preposition that forms its own phrase, the prepositional phrase to her.
    Let's test that:

    Ex: *Tell to her. ungrammatical
    Ex: Tell nothing to her grammatical

    The verbs say and tell are near synonyms: they share a similar meaning but not the exact same meaning.

    Say means to utter meaning, whereas tell means to give information:

    Ex: Say your name (meaning, utter the sounds)
    Ex: Tell me your name (meaning, give me that information)

    Grammatically, the verb tell takes a noun phrase, whereas the verb say takes either a noun phrase or prepositional phrase. It can do that because its direct object can go on either side, like this:

    Ex: Say Hello to him.
    Ex: Say to him Hello.

    Say is a kind of double-object verb, one that switches its objects around --like the verb give (see below). Tell cannot do this.

    Say and tell are like the verbs give and donate:

    Ex: I gave money to the charity.
    Ex: I gave the charity money.

    Ex: I donated money to the charity.
    Ex: *I donated the charity money. ungrammatical

    In short, verbs that share a similar meaning do not always share the same grammatical structure. Learners or English need to know that first; they also need to know phrases, not lists. For example,

    Tell (someone) (something)
    Say (to someone (something)
    Say (something) (to someone)

    All the best


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    #5

    Re: To after a verb

    I'm not sure that this clarifies the issue.

    With the part:
    Note, to doesn't come after the verb say. In fact, it isn't even part of the verb at all. It's a preposition that forms its own phrase, the prepositional phrase to her.
    and
    the preposition 'to' expresses a direction towards a destination

    Yes. There is the meaning of prepositions, quite apart from this issue, and their meaning applies here also.
    But the reason we cannot say
    *Tell to her.
    is because 'to tell' is a transitive word requiring an object, as you then give:
    Ex: Tell nothing to her.

    We could also write:
    Tell him nothing.

    But with 'say', it usually only has an object IF the object is a very general word, such as 'something', 'anything', 'nothing'.
    and in the instance you give:
    Say "Hello"
    and similarly
    Say "Ahh".

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