The verb award is ditransitive, Oxford Dictionary says:

1. [with two objects]
Give or order the giving of (something) as an official payment, compensation, or prize to (someone)
‘The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civil honor our nation can bestow and we award it today to 12 outstanding individuals.’

and until very recently I would have argued that between the verb and its recipient a preposition was needed

  • A striking example of this recognition is the Oscar awarded to Aleksandr Petrov for his 1999 film The Old Man and the Sea.
  • Marcia Basche holds the plaque awarded posthumously to her husband, Don, in recognition of his years of service
  • The plaque awarded to Brother Andy Watson was skillfully crafted by Rob Paxton from a piece of oak that John Hodder had provided.

  • Donna Cooper of Memphis, Tennessee, also returned the Purple Heart awarded to her fallen son, Pvt. Paul Cooper, who was killed in October 1951.

But I found several instances on the Net where the I̲N̲D̲I̲R̲E̲C̲T̲ ̲O̲B̲J̲E̲C̲T̲ (the recipient) was not preceded by any preposition

  1. Over the course of her tenure, Cain has raised more than $250,000 for the American Heart Association through the yearly fundraiser as is aptly demonstrated on the plaque awarded h̲e̲r̲ this year by the association.

  2. The literary salons, while they mourned the death of Colette, were still chattering about the exciting first novel called Bonjour Tristesse by an eighteen-year-old girl; and about the Nobel Prize awarded E̲r̲n̲e̲s̲t̲ ̲H̲e̲m̲i̲n̲g̲w̲a̲y̲ .

  3. Also part of the exclusive club is actor George C. Scott, who refused the Oscar awarded h̲i̲m̲ for his leading role in the 1970 film Patton because of his deeply held belief that acting should not be competitive.

  4. followed in 1995 by the Oscar awarded Michael Radford's I̲l̲ ̲p̲o̲s̲t̲i̲n̲o̲, and, in 1997, the three statuettes won by Roberto Benigni's Life is Beautiful.

This construction sounds peculiar to me because it seems that the Direct Objects perform the action, e.g.
Q. What did the plaque do in sentence No.1?
A. It awarded Beth Cain "this year" by the association.

This sounds weird. Is it only me?

However, if we swap the position of the DIRECT OBJECT with the INDIRECT OBJECT the following sound perfectly acceptable to me

  • The American Heart Foundation awarded Beth Cain the plaque...
  • The Swedish Academy awarded Ernest Hemingway the Nobel Prize ...
  • AMPAS awarded George C. Scott the Academy Award for Best Actor

I am quite befuddled by the second construction.

  1. What is this type of construction called? What's it called when the preposition is omitted?
  2. I'm going to presume this word order is grammatical, because I found a number of instances online, but would I be correct in saying that this construction is usually found in American English?
  3. Why is the preposition, to, omitted?
  • In sentence 1, the plaque awarded her this year by the association is a NP and the object of the preposition on. It is not a DO. The direct object of the main verb has raised is more than $250,000, and this is also what is aptly demonstrated in the as is clause. Ditransitive verbs like award, give, grant, etc., can be used with or without a following preposition (such as to in sentence 1). Wikipedia has a pretty clear entry on ditransitives here. Oct 23, 2016 at 21:12
  • @P.E.Dant you should post it as an answer.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 23, 2016 at 21:41

1 Answer 1


What is it called when the preposition is omitted?  It's called an indirect object. 

That's what an indirect object is.  An indirect object is licensed and governed by a verb.  When a preposition is involved, the object is a prepositional object or an oblique object

Oddly enough, the cited dictionary page doesn't manage to offer a clear example of this verb's ditransitive use.  The example "he was awarded the Military Cross" is cast in the passive voice.  The ditransitive construction is more obvious in the active voice: "They awarded him the Military Cross."  The example "a 3.5 per cent pay rise was awarded to staff" is not a ditransitive example, even when cast in the active.  "Management awarded a 3.5% raise to the staff" includes a direct object and a prepositional object, but there is no indirect object in sight. 

You don't seem to be confused by the ditransitive use of this verb in the active voice.  However, passive-voice participles do seem to confuse you. 

Such confusion is easy to understand.  For most verbs in English, the past-tense forms and the so-called past participle forms are identical.  Even the "past participle" label is confusing, given that participles have no tense

"The Academy awarded the Oscar" looks quite similar to "the actor awarded the Oscar".  Without further context, they both can be parsed as clauses in the active voice and past tense.  However, "the actor awarded the Oscar has refused to accept it" requires a different parsing.  Here, "awarded" is a participle, "awarded the Oscar" is a participial phrase which modifies "actor", and "the actor awarded the Oscar" serves as the complete subject of "has refused to accept it". 

You're not the only one experiencing such confusion.  It's nearly universal.  Sentences like "the actor awarded the Oscar has refused to accept it" are garden-path sentences.  It is easy for anyone to assume that "awarded" is a finite verb until the phrase "has refused" is encountered.  Since "has refused" is finite and must have a subject, we have no option but to re-parse "awarded" as non-finite and without subject. 

The examples that you provided are not garden-path sentences.  Each one contains a clue to the participial nature of the verb in question before it is encountered: 

The phrase "on the plaque awarded her" has "on", a preposition which licenses an object.  The phrase "the plaque" cannot serve as the subject of "awarded" since it serves as (a part of) the object of "on".  A similar explanation serves for the prepositional phrases "about the Nobel Prize awarded Ernest Hemingway" and "by the Oscar awarded Michael Radford's Il postino . . .".  In "who refused the Oscar awarded him", "the Oscar" is (a part of) the direct object of "refused".  In the absence of a subject, there is no clause and there is no reason to assume that the verb's form is finite. 

  • Management awarded the staff a 3.5% raise. Oct 24, 2016 at 3:28
  • The eight examples I cited are all taken from the Internet. I am in full agreement with your paraphrased "the actor awarded the Oscar has refused to accept it", that does not cause me any perplexity. But the following does "...the Oscar awarded h̲i̲m̲." I would never have thought that construction was grammatical if I hadn't seen it more than once. Basically, I'm asking why has the "to" (i.e. the Oscar awarded to him) been omitted. The "him" in the aforementioned examples is the Indirect Object.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 24, 2016 at 7:22
  • 1
    Of your eight examples, only four employ indirect objects. The other four could have, but they employ prepositional phrases instead. As far as I know, there's no such thing as an obligate ditransitive. You can replace any indirect object with an appropriate prepositional phrase to represent the beneficiary or recipient. Since both constructions are grammatically sound, the choice between them is merely a question of style, of clarity or emphasis or personal preference. In "the plaque awarded posthumously to her husband", its a question of flexibility. Oct 24, 2016 at 14:23

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