General Writing and Grammar Help/phrasal verb

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Question
Dear Ted,

Would you please help me understand the verb in the following sentence:

“Carson jumped on the bed.”

How do I know if “jumped on” is a phrasal verb and “the bed” is a direct object, or if “jumped” is a transitive verb and “on the bed” is an adverbial prepositional phrase?

Is it possible that both explanations can be correct?

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Rich

Answer
Dear Rich:

Please forgive my lateness.  For the last three days, I have had outages with my internet service provider AND the electricity for my street has gone out five times.

Would you please help me understand the verb in the following sentence:

“Carson jumped on the bed.”

How do I know if “jumped on” is a phrasal verb and “the bed” is a direct object,
or if “jumped” is a transitive verb and “on the bed” is an adverbial
prepositional phrase?

Is it possible that both explanations can be correct?

*** It is possible that both are correct.  The problem is that some combinations of verbs with prepositions are considered idiomatic.  One of my grammar books offers this advice:  "Consult a dictionary for the correct combinations when are you not sure about which preposition to use with a verb.  Most dictionaries, especially unabridged dictionaries, give examples of sentences in which such combinations are used properly."

My general rule of thumb is "how does it sound?"  

Carson jumped on the bed.  I would consider "jumped" to be the verb and "on the bed" to be an adverbial prepositional phrase telling WHERE he jumped.

Here is a different sentence:  When a good deal comes along, I jump on it.  In this sentence, I believe that "on" belongs with the verb "jump."  "It" is the direct object.  [Other people would reject my interpretation.]

Most grammar books will provide examples or a long list of "two-word verbs," as one such book calls them.  The book gives about 30 examples.  Here are a few that consider the verb and the preposition to be "two-word verbs."

They were ACCOMPANIED BY their parents.
He was ACCUSED OF a crime.
Do you AGREE WITH me?

Jana CALLED OFF the wedding.
AND
Jana CALLED the wedding OFF. [There are instance in which the preposition can follow the object of the verb.]

She RAN ACROSS an old friend.
He always GETS UP early.

And so on.

Idioms should never have been allowed in the first place!

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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