This is both a usage question and a grammatical analysis question. I am familiar with complex transitive verbs, such as "to place", where one has to have at least one complement, besides the direct object, to make the phrase grammatical.

There is no such thing, apparently, as a complex intransitive verb. But then I find that I cannot analyze a sentence like "She headed up the drive to the service entrance." The verb "to head" (in this sense) clearly needs at least one adverbial phrase as complement, but it cannot take a direct object. So my first question would be: how do you call this kind of verb?

I also note that this sentence has two adverbial phrases after the verb, and I'm not sure how to analyze them. I suspect "to the service entrance" is a complement to "the drive" rather than to the verb phrase, mainly because I've never seen "head" with a preposition other than "for" in this context. Does this analysis make sense to you?

  • 1
    I think you are over-analyzing.
    – Hot Licks
    Oct 25, 2020 at 18:29
  • Perhaps “to head up” is a phrasal verb with direct object “the drive”?
    – StephenS
    Oct 25, 2020 at 18:58
  • 1
    No, head up is a transitive phrasal verb meaning 'be(come) the head officer of', as shown by the fact that it takes particle shift: She's heading it up again this year. But that's not the sense of head up here. In this case, head is simply a verb in the Path metaphor schema meaning 'move in one direction'. The direction is variously described, as here. Oct 25, 2020 at 19:03
  • Quite a few locomotion verbs are at best awkward ... I'd agree, often unacceptable ... alone. 'He sidled' / 'She sneaked' / 'Al stole' / 'Sally edged' / 'Ali inched' / .... Naděžda Kudrnáčová {2005} in an article found in Semantic Scholar speaks of 'the obligatory presence of a directional goal of motion. ' I'd query that a 'goal' is always involved; 'along ...' often works. Oct 25, 2020 at 19:54
  • Levin, and Garrudo list many more 'agentive verbs of manner of motion {run verbs}'. Oct 25, 2020 at 20:00


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