decided against doing karaoke [Transitive / intransitive verb]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by GEmatt, Jan 19, 2016.

  1. GEmatt

    GEmatt Senior Member

    La Côte, Switzerland
    English/BE, Français/CH, Deutsch/CH (rustier & rustier)

    I’d appreciate a second opinion on an exercise I’m doing, that is, to determine whether the main verbs of sentences are transitive or intransitive.

    The sentence is as follows:

    "The teacher decided against doing karaoke."

    I took the main verb to be 'to decide against', and tagged it as transitive, on the basis that its action is transferred to 'doing karaoke'. 'Doing karaoke' here being a verb phrase (or I think, more specifically, a gerund phrase), and functioning as the direct object of the main verb.

    However, I’ve been advised (i) that the main verb is actually 'to decide' (rather than 'to decide against'), which can be used transitively or intransitively, and (ii) that in the sentence above, it is intransitive, on account of there being no direct object, the teacher having decided against the action.

    I am maintaining that the negation of a transitive verb’s action within the context of a sentence does not somehow make the direct object, as a grammatical constituent, disappear.

    I thought the presence of 'against' might be complicating this, but any way I turn it, the main verb still seems to be transitive.

    Thank you in advance for any help.
  2. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    The analysis offered by your book seems reasonable to me. I can't really imagine a direct object for "decide" that isn't some sort of "to infinitive": He decided to go. Anyhow, I'm content with the idea that "decide" in "decide for/against something" is intransitive. The preposition "against" certainly leads me to believe that "doing karaoke" is the object of the preposition "against."
  3. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    Personally, I would say that 'decide' is intransitive in this sentence, and that 'against doing karaoke' is a prepositional phrase that functions as a adverb.

    However, I notice that the Longman Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs includes both "decide against sth/sb" and "decide against doing sth" as phrasal verbs.* If you wish, you an use that to support your position.

    However, I disagree with that classification. In my view, 'decide' in "decide against doing karaoke" has its usual meaning, and the prepositional phrase 'against doing karaoke' has the same function it does in 'vote against doing karaoke'. 'Vote against' is not treated as a phrasal verb.

    * Note: sth and sb are dictionary abbreviations for 'something' and 'somebody', respectively.

    Cross-posted with Owlman.
  4. GEmatt

    GEmatt Senior Member

    La Côte, Switzerland
    English/BE, Français/CH, Deutsch/CH (rustier & rustier)
    Thank you both very much.
    I wasn't aware that prepositions could have their own objects, but that makes sense.

    But in the sample sentence, "against" is being used not as a preposition, but as an adverb. According to Wiktionary, at least; I'm not sure how reliable that is, or whether it affects its ability to form a prepositional phrase.

    In any case, I'm now more comfortable with seeing "decided" as intransitive, and will be reading up on phrasal verbs at my leisure.
    Thanks again :)
  5. RM1(SS)

    RM1(SS) Senior Member

    English - US (Midwest)

    on the beach
    up the creek
    over the rainbow
    under the table
    off the wall
    beside the point

    All of those nouns are objects of the prepositions.
  6. GEmatt

    GEmatt Senior Member

    La Côte, Switzerland
    English/BE, Français/CH, Deutsch/CH (rustier & rustier)
    Thanks :)
  7. adacnarb New Member

    English USA
    The court will decide the case.
    The panel decided the outcome of the competition.
  8. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    Thanks for mentioning those, adacnarb. For some reason, those ordinary uses of nouns after "decide" didn't occur to me two years ago when I made the remark.

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