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In Prepositional verbs, certain prepositions are clubbed with certain verbs. The object of prepositional verbs always comes immediately after the preposition, which in turn comes immediately after the verb. The exception to this rule is when an adverb is used to modify the prepositional verb, in which case it can appear between the verb and the preposition. However, the object must still follow the preposition.

Examples: 'He asked for a raise.' or 'He asked politely for a raise.'

  1. We have great admiration for her courage. (admire for, admiration for)

My question is regarding some sentences which have the same verbs and prepositions as in any prepositional verb combinations but are different in structure.

For example: We admire her for her courage. (This sentence has the verb admire and the preposition that goes along with admire - which is for. We have an object "her" instead of any adverb.

However, I can write the above sentence as "We admire her because of her courage." ('because of' preposition has been used instead of 'for')

Another example with another verb: I pride myself on my ability to concentrate.

My question: Are the latter sentences (the ones with pronouns after the verb) not the same type as sentences with prepositional verbs - numbered example 1?

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  • Take on, take off, etc are phrasal verbs. There are a whole range of verb + prep combinations as in admire for, approve of, agree with, consists of etc. (so many of them) learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/grammar/b1-b2-grammar/…
    – BumbleBee
    Feb 19 at 19:43
  • Nope. The object for "We admire her for her courage." is "her" and 'for her courage" is known as a prepositional phrase acting as adverbial.
    – BumbleBee
    Feb 19 at 19:51

1 Answer 1

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These are collocations of words. There is a verb "admire" and a prepositional phrase "for her courage". The choice of the preposition "for" is influenced by both the "usual" meaning of "for" and the verb "admire". That is to say, the preposition "for" goes with the verb admire.

Of course, you can choose a different preposition, with similar or different meaning "admire her because of her courage"/"admire in spite of her courage" and so on. As with other collocations of words, there is no real way to predict which preposition will go with which verb. And there is a grey-area between collocations (words which often go together) and pure idiom (a fixed combination of words acting as a single lexeme)

As such I wouldn't consider these differently from other collocations of words. There are "adj+noun" collocations, eg "heavy rain". I wouldn't call these "adjectival nouns".

The grammar in "admire her for her courage" is "Verb-NP-PP" with the NP acting a the direct object.

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  • Okay, Thanks! I have upvoted your answer. They should have clearly said that the requirement that only an adverb should fit in between a verb and its collocated preposition is applicable when they come together. And there are many verbs that need a noun or a pronoun before its collocated preposition.
    – BumbleBee
    Feb 20 at 17:06
  • While we are at it, let me ask you about 'carry on' which is a phrasal verb. Many of the sentences with carry on have a prepositional phrase immediately after carry on. E.g., "The wayward son carried on without his father." Can an object of a preposition (that of 'on' from 'carry on') be inside a prep phrase -without his father? Normally, N, NP, noun clause, gerund, and infinitive comes after prepositions.
    – BumbleBee
    Feb 20 at 17:42
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    Yes, in the idiom "carry on" there is a prepositional phrase immediately after the particle. The word "on" doesn't appear to have an object.
    – James K
    Feb 20 at 18:02

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