I have recently debated with my English teacher if its ok to say:

"Stop playing and pay me attention!"

Any insight will be very much appreciated.

  • 1
    Pay attention to and take care of are a few of the most commonly used phrasal verbs in English. You don't want to change the order there.
    – user140086
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 18:02

3 Answers 3


Yes, it is grammatically correct, and will be understood.

However, the more common formulation is "pay attention to me".

"Pay me attention" sounds quite odd, but it is understandable.

  • 1
    Many ungrammatical sentences are understandable. The "odd" feeling you mention is ungrammaticality. Pay attention to is a fixed idiomatic phrase, and its object (me) is not an indirect object and therefore does not participate in Dative-Movement (give the book to her ~ give her the book); instead, it is really a direct object (of the phrase "pay attention to"), and may be passivized: She was paid attention to for a while, but now no one believes her. Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 19:11
  • @JohnLawler: Thanks; I stand corrected. OP: You accepted my answer, but please understand that I was mistaken in saying that the sentence is grammatically correct: it apparently is not.
    – Drew
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 21:59
  • Contrast give me your attention, where there is no idiom involved, and me is the indirect object.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 22:07
  • 1
    more common even, than "Pay attention to me" would be simply "Pay attention!" Seing as you're the one talking, there is no need to call attention to the object. It will be implied. "Stop playing, and pay attention!"
    – Born2Smile
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 23:52
  • @Colin: Attention is not physical, and is not passing from source to goal, so actually give attention is metaphorical. Practically anything dealing with human minds, thoughts, or emotions is metaphoric, because we don't experience them objectively and jointly, like we do physical reality. Commented Oct 3, 2015 at 15:00

"[Stop Playing and] Pay Attention [,please]" is the most acceptable (in British English)

"Pay Attention" is standard usage for "Pay Attention To Me": the object pronoun is not needed in self referral; in fact, its an annoying extra.

However, in non self referral then it is necessary to state the object clearly, as in "Pay Attention To The Road" [to an easily-distracted driver].


Pay attention to me (please).

Pay me your attention. Pay me a little attention.

Is it correct to use the phrase "pay attention" with "that"?

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