Why do we say

You tricked me
You fooled me
You deceived me
You offended me
You kissed me

And so on and so on

BUT you lied TO me and not you lied me?

  • 13
    I've edited your title. Please use a descriptive title and not "English grammar".
    – James K
    Dec 4, 2022 at 10:49
  • 15
    To lie in this sense means to tell a lie - it's an intransitive verb. Dec 4, 2022 at 15:53
  • 15
    There are very few answers to "why" questions about English beyond "Because English is like that." I'm sure your native language has things that are inconsistent and confusing for learners too.
    – stangdon
    Dec 4, 2022 at 16:17
  • 4
    @JamesK read it bottom up and it instantly becomes worse. At least it ended with a kiss.
    – DonQuiKong
    Dec 4, 2022 at 22:36
  • 5
    @criggie It all started with a kiss // how did it end up like this // English is three languages in a trench coat Dec 6, 2022 at 0:35

5 Answers 5


Those are the rules. The rules are not always logical.

English has some verbs that have an object. And some verbs that do not.

The verb "lie" is similar to verbs like "talk". These verbs do not have a direct object. But they can (optionally) be followed by a prepositional phrase.

He talked to me.

He lied to me.

Other verbs have a direct object, which may be required. This is just a rule of grammar and not based on any logic or meaning.


Look at something

Watch something

Grammar rules are arbitrary.

  • 25
    +1, and FWIW, verbs that have a direct object are called "transitive", and verbs that do not have a direct object are called "intransitive". You'll see these words in dictionaries, so it can be helpful.
    – gotube
    Dec 4, 2022 at 17:56
  • 3
    No, it's about transitivity. Just like in "That seems nice to me", you can't lie anybody. You can be lying to someone's face but you are not lying their face. It is not transitive. You lie to someone when you tell them lies, when lies are told to them. Lying to somebody is the same as dying on somebody or running from somebody. There is no transitivity in those verbs here, so neither direct nor indirect objects are allowed.
    – tchrist
    Dec 4, 2022 at 22:49
  • 10
    @tchrist Is that comment addressed to me? I don't know why you say "No". My answer is that this is about transitivity (although I've chosen not to use the technical term as it has been supplied in a comment) The point of my answer is that you can't logically deduce the transiftivy of a verb from its form or general meaning, nor from the transitivity of verbs with similar meanings in other languages.
    – James K
    Dec 5, 2022 at 7:39
  • 3
    Actually, "lie" can be used as a speech verb, like "say", not like "talk". In that sense, "lie" can be transitive. Example: "I don't know who stole your wallet", lied Alan.
    – Stef
    Dec 5, 2022 at 12:44
  • 6
    @Stef that isn't transitive. It's still intransitive with "Alan" as the subject. "I don't know who stole your wallet" isn't an object
    – Tristan
    Dec 5, 2022 at 15:19

As other answers have pointed out, there are lots of rules in English which you just have to follow and there isn't necessarily any logic behind them. But I think in this case there is a fairly decent reason.

In "you lied to me", the word "me" is not a direct object of the verb; it is an object of preposition. Consider these examples:

  • You lied (to me)
  • You lied (about her)
  • You lied (under oath)
  • You lied (in your testimony)
  • You lied (under oath) (to me) (about her)

I put brackets around the different objects of preposition. "To", "about", "in" and "under" have different meanings, which change the interpretation of the sentence, and it is possible to use multiple objects of preposition. So there is a logical reason to include the preposition "to", because the meaning of the sentence depends on which preposition is used.

That doesn't exactly explain why "deceived" takes a direct object but "lie" doesn't. But consider the verbs below, which might all describe the same action:

  • You lied.
  • You deceived me.
  • You defamed her.
  • You falsified your testimony.
  • You perjured yourself.

Except for "lied" which takes no direct object, each of the other verbs takes a different direct object. That means we can choose which verb to use based on which aspect is most relevant, or which aspect we want to emphasise the importance of.

So that is, sort of, a reason that "deceived" takes a direct object but "lied" doesn't: if we didn't have those different words for focus or emphasis, then we would probably invent them.

Note also that except for "deceived" which takes "me" as a direct object, the other verbs can also take "to me" as an object of preposition: "you lied (to me)", "you defamed her (to me)", "you falsified your testimony (to me)", "you perjured yourself (to me)". So the reason why you can't say "you lied me" is almost the same as the reason you can't say "you defamed her me", "you falsified your testimony me" or "you perjured yourself me". It's also almost the same as the reason why you can't say "you lied her" or "you lied your testimony".

  • But you can say "You told me (about her) (on Monday)". It's simply arbitrary that "lie" takes the object indirectly while "tell" takes it directly.
    – Barmar
    Dec 7, 2022 at 19:06
  • @Barmar It's arbitrary that "deceived" is the verb taking a direct object while all the other verbs take the same object indirectly; but it's to be expected that we have multiple verbs meaning (approximately) the same thing except for the role (if any) of their direct object. In other words, "lied" doesn't need to take "me" as a direct object because "deceived" already does, it's arbitrary which one is which but it's not surprising that they are different. (Though this ignores the fact that "you lied" doesn't necessarily mean I believed you.)
    – kaya3
    Dec 7, 2022 at 20:37
  • Graham's answer explains why it's not completely arbitrary. The verbs that have a direct object require an object, while the object is optional for the verbs that have an indirect object.
    – Barmar
    Dec 7, 2022 at 20:39
  • @Barmar That's tautological; of course the verbs which take direct objects take direct objects and the verbs which don't, don't.
    – kaya3
    Dec 7, 2022 at 20:40
  • Perhaps another way of looking at it: in Chess, it's arbitrary that the black king starts at E8 and it's arbitrary that the black queen starts at D8, but if the question is "why doesn't the queen also start at D8 like the king does?" then the answer isn't just that both positions are arbitrary. There is a logical reason for them to be different, even if it's arbitrary which one is which.
    – kaya3
    Dec 7, 2022 at 20:42

One thing you'll notice about most verbs where you have to say "to someone" or "at someone". The verb describes an action which stands on its own. So

She lied.

is a complete sentence in its own right and needs no object. If she has said something which is untrue, it doesn't matter if someone is there to hear it or not - it is still a lie. But your other examples of

You tricked me
You fooled me
You deceived me

are all actions which inherently are done to another person. So they all require an object.

There are plenty of other examples. For example, the difference between

He jumped on me.
He tackled me.

Now jumping is something you can do without needing a target, so you can say

He jumped.

and still be grammatically correct. If you want to be more specific about how he jumped, you can add a preposition and an object, of course. But tackling is inherently something that you have to do to someone.

  • 1
    Likewise, you can't have You deceived without the "me" (or other object)
    – freedomn-m
    Dec 6, 2022 at 15:54
  • 1
    @freedomn-m. Why is that? You certainly could have a sentence "You deceived." and have it fulfill the obligation of a sentence. As in answering a question - "Who, exactly, deceived?" Dec 7, 2022 at 17:29
  • 2
    @JasonPSallinger No you can't (as I mentioned above). Deceiving always requires an object which is the person (or thing) to whom it is happening. "You deceived" is not a grammatically correct sentence. You cannot stand alone in a forest and deceive as a stand-alone activity, because there is no-one to deceive. (Unless you are deceiving yourself, of course - but then you are both the subject and object, and you still need both to be stated to have a grammatically correct sentence.)
    – Graham
    Dec 7, 2022 at 18:20
  • 1
    @JasonPSallinger ... This comes down to the meaning of the word. "To lie" merely means to say something which is untrue. "To deceive" means to make someone believe something which is untrue. The requirement for there to be a "someone" is why you can't just say "you deceived". Of course you may cite the proverb about tangled webs "when once we practise to deceive", but the proverb only uses the infinitive and does not say "we deceive"; and besides, poetry (even bad poetry) is allowed to be grammatically incorrect for the sake of a rhyme scanning.
    – Graham
    Dec 7, 2022 at 18:23

As other users have said, that's the rule, it doesn't always make sense, you just have to follow it.

Graham made an excellent point in his answer that I wanted to follow up on. In your examples, those actions are all things which have some sort of impact on the other person:

  • You tricked me: I did something I wouldn't have otherwise done because I was tricked
  • You fooled me: (Similar to "tricked", the two are mostly synonyms)
  • You deceived me: I believed something that was not true because of what you did
  • You offended me: I was harmed (emotionally) by what you said.
  • You kissed me: I was physically affected by what you did.

The simple act of lying does not necessarily impact the other person in the same way as these examples. Even in the "deceived" case, where "to deceive" and "to lie" are similar in meaning, "deceive" implies that the receiver of the deceit actually believed the deceit; the act of lying does not implicitly mean that the receiver of the lie believed the lie and/or acted in any way on that lie. Therefore, it cannot be said that the telling of a lie impacts in any way the hearer of the lie. Therefore, the receiver of a lie is not the direct object of the verb "to lie".

I have no idea if this is the etymology of why "to lie" does not have a direct object, but this seems to make sense to me.

Another possible reason is that, were the verb "to lie" to take a direct object, there are 2 possible meanings of that direct object which carry equal weight (in my opinion): The hearer of the lie, and also the subject of the lie. While the verbs above very clearly most impact their direct object, the question is, would "you lied me" carry the meaning "you lied to me", or "you lied about me"? Obviously context is important, but given that the direct object tends to be defined as the thing most affected by the action in the verb, would someone being lied to be more or less affected than someone being lied about? I think that's a philosophical question, and probably another reason why the word doesn't carry a direct object, because it's unresolved.

  • Kiss is also intransitive: They kissed.
    – Nayuki
    Dec 6, 2022 at 21:09
  • incorrect. It is transitive. (each other) is tacit. Dec 7, 2022 at 17:32

Just rules... that's it. The reason we say "you lied to me" instead of "you lied me" is because the word "lie" is a transitive verb, which means that it requires a direct object to complete its meaning. In this case, the direct object is "to me," which specifies the person who was lied to. On the other hand, the phrases "you tricked me," "you fooled me," "you deceived me," and "you offended me" all use intransitive verbs, which do not require a direct object to complete their meaning. "Kissed" is a little bit more complicated, as it can be used as either a transitive or intransitive verb depending on the context. In the sentence "you kissed me," the verb is transitive and the direct object is "me," indicating the person who was kissed.

  • 6
    Things seem to be the wrong way around in this answer - some sort of editing glitch? The way these terms are normally used, "fool", "trick", "deceive" etc are transitive, and require a direct object. "Lie" is intransitive, and "to me" in "lie to me" is not a direct object. Dec 4, 2022 at 20:24
  • 2
    @JamesMartin Yep. "to me" is an adjunct.
    – gotube
    Dec 4, 2022 at 23:26

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