I am working on the following sentence:

  • They will look toward me, whom they pierced.

I am aware that a basic rule to identifying an indirect object is to ask, "to whom?" However, in this case, I am confused since the entire verbal idea is "to look toward [with confidence]".

Two questions:

  • Is me the direct object, the indirect object, or the object of the preposition?
  • Is to look toward a transitive or intransitive verb?
  • 1
    If this is a Bible translation [John 19:37], I'm puzzled: I can't find any look toward/s's, just one look to (Young's L T) which could have idiomatic force, and just possibly be treated as a multi word verb, but mainly look on ...'s, a now rare variant of gaze on .... Plus some modern look at 's. If the verb is used literally, it is simplex. Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 20:47
  • It is my own translation from the Hebrew of Zechariah 12:10b (also quoted in John 19:37). The Hebrew verb being used often occurs with the preposition to express the idea of looking on/toward someone with confidence (e.g., Isaiah 22:8; Jonah 2:4; Psalm 34:5).
    – Bret
    Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 20:57
  • 1
    While I wouldn't say that this is in any way promoting wrong doctrine, it is not a correct interpretation of these particular Scriptures. Context shows that the onlookers have a spirit of contrition and mourning at this point, not confident dependence. The verb look is used in its literal or near-literal sense, nothing like the usage in say 'I look to thee for strength' (Massachusetts Missionary Magazine ..., Volume 3) It's almost always best to use Scriptures in the ways expositors usually do, to avoid criticism by those who will find technical faults. Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 21:37
  • I understand your point (Thanks!), but was only following the category given by the lexicographers in the Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, for the sake of argument. My translation was only trying to stress my confusion, namely, if some verbs appear with certain prepositions, often to form an idiomatic combination, then is "to look to/on/toward" to be taken as a whole verbal idea? In my current work I translate it simply as, "they will look to me, whom..."
    – Bret
    Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 21:46
  • 1
    Macmillan treats 'look to' in the sense you mean as a MWV (though they use the ambiguous term 'phrasal verb') and use 'transitive' to show the MWV takes what they term a direct object, in a similar way to a simplex verb: look to PHRASAL VERB [TRANSITIVE] 1 look to (someone) to hope or expect to get help, advice etc from someone // look to (someone for something): As young children, we looked to our parents for guidance. // look to (someone to do something): They’re looking to me to help improve sales figures. Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 22:15

2 Answers 2


"me" is object of the preposition "toward" and is not a direct object (but see below) or an indirect object. "to look toward" is not a verb, but rather a combination of the verb "look" and the preposition "toward". A way to identify a verb is to see whether it can be inflected as other verbs can. If "look toward" were a verb, you'd expect a past tense form "look towarded", but of course that's not possible.

On the other hand, a way to identify a transitive verb and a direct object is to try forming a passive construction making the original direct object the subject of the passive. Here, that gets us "I was looked toward", which sounds pretty good. It is called a prepositional passive construction. So maybe there is a sense in which "look toward" is a transitive verb and "me" is its direct object. I don't know.


"Me" is the object of the preposition "toward," and also the antecedent of "whom." "Whom" is the direct object of "pierced." "To look" is the verb, not "to look toward." "To look" is intransitive.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.