0

Double-object verbs can be used in two structures, e.g. He gave me this book. = He gave this book to me.

What about 'charge' (in the sense of asking for payment)? For 'They charged me $10.', what should be the preposition in 'They charged $10 to/from me.'?

I know 'They charged me $10.' is the usual way to say it, but sometimes the description of the person charged can be very long (e.g. They charged Mr. Smith of the operations department of ABC Company $10.).

'to' is suggested ('Please charge this amount to my credit card/my account.') here: Charge payment "to", "on", or "against" a credit card/an account; charge a credit card/account/a person "with"an amount

But this sounds like an accounting context. Is it the same for the case above?

3
  • 5
    Charge doesn't work as nicely as some of the other verbs in the Commercial Transaction Frame. And you can't depend on from or to to have their usual meanings; more than money is being exchanged. Apr 21, 2022 at 1:45
  • The direct object of charge is normally the person being asked to pay. If you must use the sum as object, I think it has to be to me. Apr 21, 2022 at 7:23
  • The charge is made to the person but the money is demanded from them. The charge is the means by which the demand is made. Thus "The cafe made a charge of $10 to Mr Smith for the broken crockery" or "The cafe asked for $10 from Mr Smith for the broken crockery". The demand passes to Mr Smith but the money comes from him.
    – BoldBen
    Apr 21, 2022 at 8:50

1 Answer 1

1

(1a) The verb charge can take a direct object whose referent is the person charged (the DO often followed by a money phrase in relevant examples):

(1b) Measure phrases are best considered not as an object but as a separate category.

  • I walked 10 miles.

  • It took her 3 hours.

  • It cost me £12.

Note that these resist or disallow passivisation, unlike 'Tom bought 10 books' or 'Tom gave Jill a book.'

And prepositional alternatives are not readily available here:

  • *It cost £12 off/to/for me.

  • *It took 3 hours of/off/to/... her.

(But note

  • It cost £12 for me just to get onto the platform.)

...................................

(2) The verb charge can alternatively take a direct object whose referent is the commodity being charged for:

  • Charge the meal to me.
  • Shall we charge the flowers to your account? [CD]

These are inflexible, with the DO followed by a to-phrase indicating the person, account etc to be debited. They don't allow dative transformation (*Charge me the meal.)

...................................

In your case, using a rewrite makes most sense:

  • Mr. Smith, of the operations department of ABC Company, was charged $10 [by ...].
3
  • In constructions like "The airport charged him an additional fee for his three hockey sticks" and "I always charge him a commission" do "an additional fee" and "a commission" still qualify as measure phrases? // M-W has the example "charges $50 for an office visit" under a transitive sense for charge: "to fix or ask as fee or payment."
    – DjinTonic
    Apr 22, 2022 at 13:03
  • Yes, there are different analyses supported by different grammarians. 'Ann led him a merry dance' is or was claimed to be ditransitive by one (Oxford, I think) dictionary. I'm always very wary about constituency tests, but the passivised *'A merry dance was led him by Ann' shows that the latter example must at least be considered a dubious candidate for a ditransitive structure. 'The airport charged him an additional $20' has to use a measure phrase, so perhaps we just need a better hypernym for these strings. *'An additional fee/$20 was charged him.' // But the whole issue of DOs needs ... Apr 22, 2022 at 13:43
  • sorting out, unless I've missed some definitive analysis. ... 'The piano had a stool' is non-passivisable. Allerton, in The Handbook of English Linguistics_eds Aarts and McMahon claims that post-verb non-passivisable noun groups such as appear in 'The piano resembled a pianola.' / 'The piano weighed a ton.' / 'The piano had a stool.' / 'The piano seemed an antique.' should not be considered objects but 'are best regarded as belonging to a slightly different category'. 'The Passive and the Notion of Transitivity' by Monique De Mattia-Viviès is also well worth reading. Apr 22, 2022 at 13:53

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.