TeachingEnglish
Question - Transitive & Instransitive verbs

Hi, I have a question which has been puzzling me today, and I wondered if anyone has a good answer to it:Watch me  /  Watch the TVLook at me  /  Look at the TVWhy does "look" need "at" after it, whereas "watch" does not? We can talk about transitive and intransitive verbs, but it's kind of approaching the problem with hindsight, ie knowing the correct answer and then simply applying a label to it.If you were unfamiliar with English, how would you know to add "at" after "look" but not after "watch"?  Any help would be much appreciated!- Rob

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inabewetrust's picture
inabewetrust

I think this is a problem of collocation. 'Words that occur together' not so much of transitive and intransitive verbs, because both verbs 'watch and look' can be transitive or intransitive.Remember the grammatical forms of collocation:adjective + noun : I remember my formative yearsadverb + adjective : I'm hopelessly addicted to coffee.noun + noun : The government have just unveiled their policy reviewverb + noun : we will honour our pledge to reduce unemploymentdependent preposition ( I think this is your case ): Personally, I think they should be ashamed of themselves.part of a longer phrase: it's always interesting to delve into the past.  We learn a collocation by discovering it, learning it and using it, just as we learn vocabulary.

PVRob's picture
PVRob

inabewetrust, thanks a lot for your reply.I'm interested in the collocation perspective, this might be a better way of looking at it.You mention that we learn them in the same way we learn vocabulary. In the sense that collocations are variations in speech patterns I would definitely agree, things like "policy review" are effectively memorized as words in themselves.However if we're dealing with the addition of a preposition ("at" in my case), I just got the impression there might be a logical way to explain it, so students dont have to rote learn each one.Would you say there's no underlying principle behind preposition collocations, a bit like teaching irregular verbs?Rob