"The indirect object answers the question “To whom?” or “For whom?” the action of the verb is performed." For example:

  1. He gives María the book.
    To whom does he give the book?
    To María.
    IO = María
  2. He buys me flowers.
    For whom does he buy the flowers?
    For me.
    IO = me

I would like to know why in sentence number 1 we ask to whom and not for whom, and why in sentence number 2 we ask for whom and not to whom. In other words, how do I know when to ask to whom and when to ask for whom in order to find the indirect object.

  • 2
    Most native speakers today (particularly in normal conversation) wouldn't use whom at all in these examples. And they'd put the preposition at the end: Who did he give the book to? Dec 11, 2016 at 19:15
  • For purposes of finding the indirect object, it's perfect.
    – Lambie
    Feb 20, 2019 at 17:41

1 Answer 1


We give something to someone. To whom did he give the book?

We buy a gift for someone. For whom did he buy the flowers?

Who are those flowers for?
--They're for my girlfriend.

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