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As the subject says. Note the following sentences:

"I got into a taxi." "He came into the room." "We went into the store."

For some reason, I have always been under the impression that locations in sentences like these are not considered direct objects. To my mind, these are different than sentences such as "The truck crashed into the store" or "He blew up the car." I can't explain why, however. Or am I wrong altogether on this one?

Any feedback would be appreciated. Thank you.

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  • None of the examples you cite contain a transitive verb.
    – BillJ
    Jun 22, 2022 at 5:42
  • Lexico describes these senses as "no object, with adverbial of direction". Whether you consider them transitive seems to depend on your definition of transitivity, which Wikipedia suggests is debated, and can be viewed semantically or grammatically.
    – Stuart F
    Jun 22, 2022 at 16:51
  • I think of the taxi and the store to be objects of a preposition. So they have a bit of an object feel so I can understand your confusion. Jun 22, 2022 at 23:13

2 Answers 2

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Try the Passive Test. Almost all transitive clauses allow the Passive transformation, which promotes direct objects to subject position, adds an auxiliary be, changes the main verb form, and demotes the agent -- but doesn't change the meaning:

  • Bill ate the last banana. == Passive => The last banana was eaten by Bill.

For the three sentences given, Passive would work like this (with modifications to make Passive easier):

  • Frank got into the taxi. == Passive => *The taxi was got(ten) into by Frank
  • Mary came into the room. == Passive => *The room was come into by Mary
  • The twins went into the store. == Passive => *The store was gone into by the twins

As can be seen, the putative passive transforms are ungrammatical,
showing that these are not transitive sentences with direct objects.

0

A direct object is one which directly receives the action of the subject: I hit the ball; He blew up the car; even They entered the building.

Your example sentences use the preposition into. What follows into is a prepositional object:

The prepositional object is the noun or pronoun that the preposition affects or describes. So, if you were to say “the apple in the tree,” the word in is the preposition and tree is its object. The full prepositional phrase modifies apple by telling us where it is.

Grammarbook.com (my emphasis)

Note that the building is not the direct object in "They went into the building": the verb go (along with others like come) is not a transitive verb and can never take an object — which is why a prepositional phrase is necessary.

Get is a versatile verb which can take an object in its "obtain" meaning: "She got an apple". But it doesn't take an object in other uses, and certainly doesn't when it's followed by a prepositional phrase.

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  • When the verb is better considered unary rather than a Vsimplex + Prep construction, most would call the unary verb (traditionally 'phrasal verb' etc; after many more modern analysts, 'multi-word verbs') 'transitive' where appropriate. (a) He came round about thirty minutes after knocking himself out. [come round = regain consciousness an intransitive MWV] // (b1) She's come across a novel solution to the Heinz paradox. [come across = hit upon / discover a transitive MWV] // (b2) He's come down with Covid. [come down with = contract / fall ill with a transitive MWV] Jun 22, 2022 at 10:23
  • 1
    @Edwin If your comment is disagreeing with my answer (I can't actually tell) then please write an answer.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jun 22, 2022 at 12:18
  • No; it's going on to consider the identical-looking cases where [V + prep/part] are considered a MWV, which is usually considered intransitive or transitive according to whether the particle is a transitivising particle. Jun 22, 2022 at 18:10
  • Well if you think my answer is incomplete, please write another.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jun 22, 2022 at 18:38
  • I can't without duplicating your answer, for then my answer would be incomplete. But I'm sure that the distinction between obliques and direct objects has been covered here in greater depth before. Jun 22, 2022 at 18:47

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