1- Doctors often work very long hours. (Why not "work for..." ?)

2- He worked the clubs long before TV made him famous. (Why not "work in/for the clubs..." ?)

3- I am working a drug case. (He is a detective.) (Why not "work on a drugs case" ?)

4- They are thieves working a very long con. (A long con:A long con or big con is a scam that unfolds over several days or weeks and involves a team of swindlers, as well as props, sets, extras, costumes, and scripted lines.) (Why not "work on/for a very long con" ?)

Why we don't use preposition in these sentences above?

  • We can use a preposition, but it's optional. It's a matter of personal choice. Jun 24, 2019 at 12:47

1 Answer 1


The simple answer is, because we don't have to, because that's the way English is.

The first case is different from the others. In the first case "long hours" is not the object of the verb, but an adjunct: an adverbial expression. With a particular time, "for" is optional ("I worked three hours" or "I worked for three hours"); but "to work long hours" is an idiom, and "I worked for long hours" sounds odd.

In the other cases, the phrase in question is the object of the verb. In its central meanings, "work" is intransitive; but it has quite a few special meanings where it is transitive, and these are examples.

"Work the clubs" is an idiom in the entertainment world, meaning to go around the clubs (nightclubs, comedy clubs, social clubs) performing in each: there is an implication that it is hard work, for not much pay. I think you could substitute different kinds of places or events for "clubs" ("work the festivals", for example) but you wouldn't say "He worked a club" - it refers to the continuing experience.

"Working a drug case" and "Working a cone" are examples of its transitive use in the general sense of "do a job".

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