Does anybody know the rule in grammar that describes what the two verbs, "sleep" and "charge" have in common?

Can "put to charge" be a valid part of some sentence? like "I put my phone to charge". I feel like it should be valid but still feels sounds/weird.

  • Normally, in the US, I would say "I put my phone on charge" or "I'm charging my phone".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented May 23, 2018 at 1:55

2 Answers 2


Sometimes whether a word functions as a verb or a noun depends on the context. For example, in the following sentences, whatever comes after "put to" is a noun:

  • He told the children the cat was put to sleep.
  • The murderer was put to death by lethal injection.
  • Their wealth puts to shame even the Rothschilds.

After the verb "to put" another verb can follow, e.g.:

  • The killer was put to do this by others.
  • The rodents were put to exercise on a wheel.
  • The slaves were put to work in the fields.

In your example, the verb "to charge" is used in its transitive sense. So, when someone says, "I put my phone to charge" – charge what? – the sentence makes no sense. On the other hand, "I put my robot to charge the phone" makes sense.

Examples with the intransitive verb "to charge":

  • The pimp put his hookers to charge more for anal sex.
  • The coach put him to charge his opponent like that.
  • The cruel dog trainer put the animal to charge at stray cats.
  • 1
    I'm not clear how you can speak with such confidence - "to sleep" and "to charge" sound like infinitives to me. Idiomatically (in Britain) one's phone is usually "put on charge" (though I have heard "put to charge"). "On charge" is a phrasal noun of condition, such as "on heat" or "on guard", I would have thought.
    – WS2
    Commented Jan 22, 2018 at 8:26
  • 1
    @WS2 There is one difference, though. 'To sleep' is intransitive but 'to charge' in this sense (as opposed to the military and financial senses) is transitive. If you say "I put my phone to charge" I would say that it was an elided version of "I put my phone to charge itself". "I put my phone on to charge" is different again, 'charge' here is a noun rather than a verb.
    – BoldBen
    Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 18:30
  • @BoldBen That's why I prefer "put on charge". It is not the phone which is doing the charging, and I have not yet found a phone which has the ability to "charge itself". It is the mains electricity which is doing the charging.
    – WS2
    Commented Mar 27, 2018 at 13:16
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    @WS2 Really I agree with you. I would almost, if not always, say '"put it on charge". I was trying to point out that, even if you accept "I put my phone to charge" you would still need 'itself' as the object since 'charge' in the electrical sense is a transitive verb. You could say "I charged my phone overnight so that it would be useable all day" but even then I would probably say "I charged my phone up overnight".
    – BoldBen
    Commented Mar 28, 2018 at 20:54
  • @BoldBen "I charged my phone" is fine. At least, that's what I say. Transitive verb, "I" the subject, and "my phone" the direct object.
    – WS2
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 20:05

I don't see any problem with using "put your phone to charge" in conversational English. I would consider it to be a shortened form of "put your phone [away] to charge", and I don't find it strange (at least from the perspective of a ~30 year old American).

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