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I get confused sometimes because I read both phrases(proposed her or proposed to her). So, please let me know, which one is correct?

I proposed to her.

vs.

I proposed her.

4

The verb propose means "suggesting something (generally a plan). And, the most popular thing to propose to someone is marriage. If you propose to a girl, you are actually asking to get married.

You can also say I proposed her but then it can also introduce a case of 'offering her some designation'.

The President proposed her as head of the Civil Rights Commission

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    You always propose something to someone, so if you propose her, it means something else than when you proposed a plan to her. You also missed a to in "the most popular thing to propose to someone is marriage." :) – oerkelens Mar 31 '14 at 11:12
  • @oerkelens difficult to view and answer through the smartphone! thanks for pointing out. – Maulik V Mar 31 '14 at 11:29
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    I just got an idea for a comedy skit: The company is considering who should be selected for a new job, so a man drops by a women's office and says, "Sally, I just want to let you know, I plan to propose you." And she thinks he said "propose TO you" ... – Jay Mar 31 '14 at 19:37
  • @Jay that's nice and teaches the nuance of that word. – Maulik V Apr 1 '14 at 4:51
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To propose to someone is idiomatic shorthand for proposing marriage to someone.

So if you say

I proposed to her.

You have asked her to marry you.

Normally, you propose something to someone, or you propose something or someone for a function.

So it is also possibly to say

I proposed her.

Let's say that the company you work for is looking for a person to lead a new team, and you think a specific woman would be a very good candidate for that. You can propose her for the position. If someone asks you later if you made any proposals, you can say "I proposed her".

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I upvoted Maulik V's excellent answer. Let me just add a technicality:

In English, if a noun follows a verb, this usually means that it is the direct object of that verb, that is, the thing being acted on. So if you "propose Mrs Smith", Mrs Smith is the object of the proposal, she is the thing being proposed. For example, you may be suggesting that she is a good candidate for some job or task.

If something is not the thing being acted on, but is in some other way affected by the verb, it is an indirect object. We normally put the word "to" or some other preposition in front of it. So if you "propose to Mrs Smith", Mrs Smith is not the thing being proposed, she is the person that you are proposing to.

Not sure if that helps or just helps confuse you, but for what it's worth ...

  • +1 for a noun-verb sentence. And yes, that's right and thanks for adding that. When you propose Mrs Smith, you, in one way, refer her. – Maulik V Mar 31 '14 at 14:55

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