I learned and know that the transitive verb must go with object, and some verbs contain both transitive and intransitive but others only have transitive and intransitive, respectively.

and the verb distract is a transitive verb which does not involve intransitive verb.

and I found one sentence from my textbook,

-> When a room is well organized, there is nothing to distract from the work.

here, even though the verb distract is a transitive verb, it goes with preposition from, which generally follows after the intransitive verb.

How this sentence can be grammatical?

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    "Distract" is normally a transitive verb, but in your example the direct object is unexpressed but recoverable from the context. Intransitive "distract" is interpreted as "distract one/you". – BillJ Jun 5 '18 at 7:39

You are right, "distract" is a transitive verb, which means that we use a direct object after it.

However, the object is omitted in the sentence "When a room is well organized, there is nothing to distract (the direct object should be here) from the work".

But it's possible to distract somebody from something: Don't distract her from her studies. He distracted our attention from the issue. As you can see, "from" is used after the object and it doesn't make the verb intransitive.

Personally, I'd say "When a room is well organized, there is nothing to distract you from the work".

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From illinois.edu: "There are two kinds of prepositional phrases: adjective phrases and adverb phrases." In this case, "from the work" is an adverb phrase modifying "distract".


He distracted the man.
He distracted the man from the work.

Also, in your sentence, there seems to be an implied "you".

there is nothing to distract (you) from the work.
there is nothing to distract (one) from the work.

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  • wow thank you a lot! Your answer really enlighten me! – Belle Jun 5 '18 at 7:09
  • It is preferable to analyse "from his work" as a complement of "distract", rather than a modifier. Note that "from his work" is a PP, not an AdvP. You're conflating category and function, a common mistake among learners. – BillJ Jun 5 '18 at 7:10
  • @BillJ Then "from his work" outwardly seems PP but it function as AdvP? – Belle Jun 5 '18 at 7:19
  • @Belle no: AdvP is a phrase type (like AdjP, NP etc.) not a function. "From the work" belongs to the category PP, and its function is that of complement. – BillJ Jun 5 '18 at 7:24

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