For example:

X pulled off the sweater or X pulled the sweater off

but let someone off the hook not let off the hook someone

to knock over the car or to knock the car over

and to knock the child over but not to knock over the child

X rang someone back but not X rang back someone

  • These verbs are called phrasal verbs. Do a search on that here (I believe there's a tag, too) and you'll find a lot of relevant questions and answers. This question will most likely end up being closed as a duplicate of one of them eventually, but my current mobile interface is not conducive to advanced searching, so I'll just leave you with the term to search for for now. Dec 4 '14 at 17:26
  • My question is very precise. I'm afraid your link doesn't provide much help.
    – user15851
    Dec 4 '14 at 17:34
  • 1
    Actually most of your "not" examples are perfectly fine if not as common.
    – Oldcat
    Dec 4 '14 at 17:48

This is a mixed bag of constructions. Some are phrasal verbs, so particle shift works:

  • pull the sweater off ~ pull off the sweater

  • knock the vase over ~ knock over the vase

  • knock the child over ~ knock over the child
    (this is grammatical but odd -- prototypic uses of knock over are with erect objects, not people)

and some are not phrasal verbs, so particle shift doesn't work:

  • ring Bill back ~ *ring back Bill

  • let Bill back in ~ *let back Bill in ~ *let back in Bill

  • let Bill off the hook ~ *let off Bill the hook ~ *let off the hook Bill

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