V n on n
The 'pat on the back' groupThese verbs are concerned with touching or hitting someone, either in a friendly way or in a violent way. The noun group following the verb indicates the person you touch or hit. The prepositional phrase indicates which part of their body you touch or hit. We include here land and plant, where the noun group is a kiss or a blow, for example.
To pat someone on the back may also be metaphorical, meaning to praise someone. When a reflexive pronoun is used (see below), the action is always metaphorical.
His fist lashed out, caught her on the side of her face and knocked her down.
One by one the uncles rose and shook his hand, patted him on the back and welcomed him home.
Mary Ann leaned over and pecked him on the cheek.
Marvin tried to plant a Valentine's Day kiss on Ruth's cheek but his peck landed on the side of her neck.
In the case of pat, the noun group following the verb is often a reflexive pronoun. This pattern is V pron-refl on n.
beat catch clap clout hit land pat peck plant slap
The industry is patting itself on the back for being incredibly successful.