If we want to use the verb answer, should we say: “answer to the phone” or “answer the phone”? How about other cases like answering (to) other things like someones question, query etc.
The verb answer is normally used either without any Complements, or with a Direct Object:
- “Yes”, she answered. (no Complement)
- Answer the question. (with Direct Object, the question)
- I answered him. (with Direct Object him)
- Answer the phone. (with Direct Object phone)
When answer means to respond as in the sentences above, it does not take preposition phrases as Complements:
- *Answer to the question. (ungrammatical)
- *I answered to him. (ungrammatical when used with this meaning).
- *Answer to the phone. (ungrammatical)
Nouns cannot take Objects. For this reason when we use the noun “answer”, we put the thing being answered in a preposition phrase with to:
- The answer to the question …
- My answer to him …
There is another meaning of the verb answer, to take orders from, obey, and explain your actions to someone: (definition from Cambridge Dictionaries). When used with this meaning the verb answer takes a to-preposition phrase as a Complement:
The Vice-Principal answers directly to the Principal.