Imagine someone is indebted to you some amount of money. You are going to get it back. You friend who knows the issue, meets you and wants to ask about the matter. Which one of the following questions of the friend would sound natural here to you to be asked from the person in our question:

  • What happened with the money you were owed? Did you get it back?

  • What happened with the money they owed you? Did you get it back?

  • What happened with the money they were indebted to you? Did you get it back?

  • What happened with the money you were indebted? Did you get it back?

For me, the only choice which doesn't work here is the last one, but if there is a better way to say it (using the verbs "indebted" and "owe"), then please let me know about it.

  • The first one sounds most natural because the listener would have to think the least. "Indebted" forces me to think about who owes whom money, and so, because it requires more thought from the listener (and the speaker!), is less colloquial. Jan 25, 2017 at 8:43
  • 1
    To be indebted = to owe someone (not to be owed). So #4 is wrong. I agree that #1 is most natural.
    – TimR
    Jan 25, 2017 at 10:40

1 Answer 1


The first two are correct, and I prefer #1, unless you want to mention a particular person. This is a good use of the passive voice.

If you do want to mention the person then "... the money (that) Jack owed you" would be natural. The word "that" is optional.

The third is incorrect. While you can "owe a person money" (two objects) And you can "be indebted to a person", you can't "be indebted to a person money.

The last incorrect because "to be indebted" means "to owe someone money", it doesn't mean "to be owned money". So the second two don't carry the correct meaning.

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