Are prepositional verbs transitive verbs?

I ask that because some prepositional verbs can become passive verbs and the “object of preposition” can become the “subject” of passive prepositional verb.

1 Answer 1


A verb is transitive if it takes at least a direct object and possibly an indirect object.

A verb must have a direct object before it can have an indirect object.

Direct objects of verbs can appear right after the verb. There is no preposition you can put between the verb and the object.

I hit the ball

Indirect objects can be expressed with a prepositional phrase lead by 'to' or 'for, but don't have to.

I gave the ball to Mike.

I gave Mike the ball.

The prepositional phrase part of a prepositional verb is therefore not an object because there isn't a "second object".

I approved of the expenditure.

This would be passively expressed like this:

The expenditure was approved of by me.

Note that there is a difference between approved and approved of, so the of is needed in the passive voice construction.

  • If approve has no object, how can it be passivised? what do you claim is the structure of your last example?
    – Colin Fine
    Mar 10, 2021 at 22:09
  • Why did you say “second object”? And I was thinking some prepositions aren’t passive or some prepositional phrases after some verbs aren’t passive. Mar 11, 2021 at 4:01
  • You say "There is no preposition you can put between the verb and the object", but don't forget the particles which can occur between a verb and its direct object. For example, in "She took down the suitcase", "down" is a preposition located between the verb and its direct object. Likewise "He took off the label", where "off" is a preposition.
    – BillJ
    Mar 11, 2021 at 7:23

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