A: Did you play tennis last weekend?
B: No, I wasn't feeling so well, so I decided not to _____.

What CAN'T you say in the blank?
a. (nothing)
b. do
c. do so
d. do it
e. do that
f. play
g. play tennis
h. play tennis last weekend

Why do I ask this question? Because I know that you can end the sentence with "to" as in (a). And I also know that you can add "do so/it/that" after "to". And I also know that you can repeat the verb phrase with or without "last weekend".

But I can't find a rule that you can omit the object and just use "play" as in (f), although somehow (f) does sound fine to my ears.

When can we end the sentence with a lexical verb (e.g., play) and omit its object (e.g., tennis)?

Could someone find me some authoritative source on this particular point?

  • You missed out (h) ...so I decided not to play tennis last weekend, which is the "complete" version. Commented Feb 3, 2023 at 12:01
  • @FumbleFingers Thanks. It's been incorporated now.
    – listeneva
    Commented Feb 4, 2023 at 9:23

1 Answer 1


If you put (b) "do" in the blank, the sentence would be incomplete.

*I wasn't feeling so well, so I decided not to do.

The other versions would be all correct, even (f) which omits the direct object because it is so obvious.

  • I agree with you, but it doesn't explain why b) doesn't work. The sentence isn't complete with a) either, but that's quite acceptable. Actually I think b) is possible, but only with do unstressed - in which case you might as well say a). The others all have at least some stress on do or play.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Feb 3, 2023 at 12:24
  • Please note the question has been edited.
    – listeneva
    Commented Feb 4, 2023 at 9:28

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