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Everybody complains against callous treatment of the the police.

I believe we do not use against with the word complain because complain in itself means something against. Can you please clarify this doubt. Thank you.

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    You're correct. It should be complain about callous treatment – Graham Nicol Oct 9 '15 at 3:49
  • @GrahamNicol so, it can be both complains of or complains about, I believe both would be correct. – Seema Bhukar Oct 9 '15 at 4:26
  • If you say "complains of", it would have to be: Everybody complains of callous treatment by the the police. – Mamta D Oct 9 '15 at 5:31
  • Why don't you ask OALD, oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/… – rogermue Dec 8 '15 at 2:39
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Complain against is not ungrammatical, but it is very rare outside of legal contexts, where complain has the sense lay a formal complaint or pleading. It is used only with persons, natural or corporate, as object of the preposition, because only persons can be sued.

So you might say that indignant citizens bringing suit against the police department for some misconduct "complained against the police". But in your example what you probably mean is

Everybody complains about the treatment of [somebody—criminals?] by the police

meaning that the police mistreated the criminals.

And you probably mean that the treatment was harsh or severe rather than callous = "unfeeling, hard-hearted".

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The word 'Complain' is always targeted at something or someone. It is also a negative impact verb. There is no need to double negate it with a word like 'against'. It is irrelevant and meaningless to do so. You are 100% correct with your assumption.

  • Well, I could say "She just likes to complain." or "Stop complaining and eat your dinner." Complain doesn't have to be targeted at something or someone, unless I'm misunderstanding your meaning. – ColleenV Apr 5 '16 at 16:59
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The verb 'to complain' doesn't collocate with the preposition against, but the noun 'complaint' does. So you can have/bring/ make a complaint against the police.

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