I was studying about Phrasal Verbs For now, everything was fine but only this thing has been kept making me be confused 😣

He just checked out of the hotel. I cannot use it without a preposition 'of' (Honestly, I'm still not sure why I need to use preposition here.)

But if I use 'Check out' as a meaning of 'to investigate' Then Do I need to use preposition yet?

I already checked out the room just ago. Or I already checked out of the room just ago.

Please, help me out of this difficult grammar 😱 My brain is about to explode..

  • Firstly, note that just ago isn't valid (I assume you mean something like just a moment ago or just now). But you should also note that I checked out the hotel room (without preposition of) would normally be interpreted as the transitive usage to examine someone or something in order to be certain that everything is correct, true, or satisfactory (what you might do when you arrive, not when you leave the hotel). So I suggest you should always include of for that second sense. Jan 16, 2019 at 13:45
  • Google Books claims 11K hits for check out the hotel, and almost 40K for check out of the hotel, most of which I'm sure will confirm this difference in meaning. Note that you can also "intransitively" check out from the hotel when you leave. Jan 16, 2019 at 13:52
  • Really thank you for your kind and detailed comments, it helped me a lot!
    – Furry Yang
    Jan 18, 2019 at 12:16

2 Answers 2


As you said, the phrasal verb "check out" has two definitions. When used to mean "sign out" (as in the context of hotels), the verb is transitive or reflexive, taking a direct object that is the thing or person actually going "out". For example, "book" is the direct object in "I checked out a book from the library". If the direct object is not an explicit part of the sentence, then the verb is acting reflexively on the subject. In other words, "I checked out of the hotel" and "I checked myself out of the hotel" mean the same thing. The preposition "of" shows that the hotel is not the direct object but rather the location from which the person is checking out, just like in "I took the book out of the bag." (Note that verbs in English can often be used with more than one preposition. You could also say "I checked out from the hotel.")

When used to mean "investigate", then the direct object is the thing or person being studied. Consider "I examined the bridge to make sure it was safe." Here "the bridge" is the direct object of "examined", so there is no preposition. We could also say "I checked out the bridge to make sure it was safe." Prepositions are not used with direct objects (generally, but there may be some contrived exception that I can't think of now).

  • 1
    I had a bit of trouble understanding your second sentence, because I hadn't consciously thought of the possibility of including a direct object (reflexive or not, relative to the actual verb subject) with the check out = sign out sense. If that could even trip me up, perhaps it might be useful for you to explicitly make the point as early as possible that I checked myself out (and non-reflexive He checked me out) are valid transitive usages (for both the sign out and investigate senses). Jan 18, 2019 at 14:43
  • @FumbleFingers Thank you for pointing that out. Do you think my recent edit clarifies the matter?
    – Tashus
    Jan 18, 2019 at 14:59
  • 2
    Absolutely! I'm only sorry I can't upvote twice! Of course, as a native speaker I already "know" what you're saying (I just wasn't seeing things so clearly when I read your original text). But assuming learners know enough English to follow what you're saying here, I reckon they should end up with a pretty good idea of what's going on here. We'll just have to wait and see whether OP's brain already exploded before he could be saved by the understanding contained above. If you don't get an "Accept" and an upvote from him, I guess you/we were just too late! Jan 18, 2019 at 16:27

The phrasal verb check out is an intransitive phrasal verb when used to mean to leave a hotel/room after paying your bill. So you cannot say "I checked out the hotel/room". You must use the preposition "of" in the sentence if you want to use the noun hotel/room as follows:

I just checked out of the room. However, it's more idiomatic and common to say "I just checked out", without using the noun hotel/room.

I have dropped "ago" in the sentence as we don't use the "ago" after the "just". However, You can say just a minute/just a minute ago.

The "check out" is also a transitive verb if used to mean to investigage, in which case it must take an object as follows:

The police checked out his statement.

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