I confuse about object of phrasal verbs.

For example, She gave away all her money.

“all her money” is an object of verb “ gave” or an object of adverb “ away”?

And “all her money” is direct or indirect object? Thanks a lot!

2 Answers 2


Obviously, "all her money" is an object of verb "gave". The simple understanding would be omitting some part and trying to see if the sentence will still makes sense.

You can write that sentence like this:

She gave all her money. [without the word "away"]

But you can't write it like this:

She away all her money. [without the word "gave"]

Clearly you know that a complete sentence must at least have a subject + a verb + an object. There's no way the object and the subject in such sentence will be connected just by an adverb.

  • 2
    Actually "She gave all her money" doesn't make sense, because it begs the question "she gave it to whom/what/where?". I think gave away is a single verb in this case.
    – WendiKidd
    Oct 28, 2013 at 22:08
  • 2
    @WendiKidd It may invite the question, if the context has not already provided the answer: "How much did Laura give?" "She gave all her money." But it neither begs the question nor is obliged to answer it: "She gave all her money." "To whom?" "None of your beeswax; I wasn't talking to you." Oct 29, 2013 at 3:23
  • WendiKidd: You can read the nice explanaition from @StoneyB above, (y)
    – Safira
    Oct 30, 2013 at 1:02

Bear in mind that any form of analysis of parts of speech and functions of words in a sentence depends on the system of analysis preferred by the person doing the analysis.

A traditional analysis (see Frederick Wood (1954.156), The Groundwork of English Grammar) treats 'gave' as a verb functioning as a verb, 'away' as an adverb modifying the verb 'gave' and 'money' as a noun functioning as the direct object of the verb, and

Some writers (See Sinclair et al (1990.165) Collins Cobuild English Grammar) see 'gave away' as transitive phrasal verb with 'all the money' as the direct object of the verb.

A more modern analysis (see Huddleston and Pullum (2002.280), The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language) treats 'gave' as the verb, functioning as a verb, 'away' as a particle, functioning as the complement of the verb, and 'money' as the noun head of the noun phrase 'all the money' which functions as the direct object of the verb.

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