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?

  • 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


(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 ...].
  • 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

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