Could you explain grammar of 'to hook open'? Why not 'to hook to open'?

She bent her head over the umbrella, lengthened the umbrella somehow, then she reached with the lengthened umbrella to hook open the little train window above her.

Last by Ali Smith

  • She used the point of the umbrella as if it was a hook to move a part of the train window that could be opened and shut. Mar 15, 2020 at 16:15
  • I understand that or to push the window hook by the umbrella, but for me it is a strange construction 'to hook open'. I hope someone explain this grammar.
    – Vitaly
    Mar 15, 2020 at 16:28
  • 1
    She may not have used the point, but rather used the handle as a hook. Mar 15, 2020 at 16:57
  • You can use 'hook' as a verb to convey the idea of manipulating something with an implement which does not necessarily have a hooked shape. My eraser was jammed in my keyboard but I hooked it out with a pencil. I dropped a gherkin in my soup and hooked it out with a spoon. Mar 15, 2020 at 21:20

2 Answers 2


This is a pretty common structure in the English language.

Consider these examples:

he pried open the door of the car to extract the injured guy out of it.

However it's more grammatical to say "pried the door open"

the polic kicked open the door.

It's more grammatical to say "kicked the door open"

Another example:

he slammed the door shut

So it is in your example: It's more grmmatical to say:

she hooked the window.. open.

As for the grammar I should say some English verbs are followed by an object and then an adjective to show the result of an action on the object.

verb obj adj

verb adj obj

Are both correct but the former seems to be considered more grammatical according to dictionary entries checked( Cambridge/ Collins/Macmillan)

  • What about this "I stepped up and pushed the gate open ... Annoyed, I pushed harder, and stepped through the space I'd wedged open." Why and what 'open' is used here? I mean the second 'open'.
    – Vitaly
    Mar 16, 2020 at 10:36
  • Hey @Vitaly agian it follows the same structure; as the other answer mentions more technically, these are all resultative constructions. wedge/pry/push/kick/hook + open/shut --
    – Fermichem
    Mar 16, 2020 at 18:24

That is a "resultative" construction, where a verb brings about a resulting state.
That state may be represented by an adjective, such as "open".
Here is a link to Wikipedia resultative.
The relevant section in the Wikipedia article is "Adjectival resultatives".

  • With respect, I'd have to disagree with your point. consider this: "he slammed the door shut* --> 'shut' represents a supplementive clause (verbless adjectival clause) in final position. Hence slam shut is not a phrasal verb. another example : he painted the room green.
    – Fermichem
    Mar 15, 2020 at 20:38
  • Yes, Fermichem, you are right. "Open" is an adjective, like "shut" and "green", so it's not a prepositional verb. Mar 15, 2020 at 20:50
  • Fermichem, thanks for pointing out my error. I think I've found a correct reference in Wikipedia, for "resultative"; I'd like to know what you think of it. Mar 15, 2020 at 22:03
  • yes yes ! that's exactly the structure we're looking for! thanks for digging it up !!
    – Fermichem
    Mar 16, 2020 at 20:00

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