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“May I recommend (to) you a group class to deal with your anger?”

Do I need the to there? Why or why not?

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2 Answers 2

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If you look at the entry for give in the Cambridge Dictionary, you will see that it can have two objects. This means that you can specify the recipient in two ways:

Give the money to me -recipient linked with preposition to
Give me the money - recipient is an indirect object: no preposition required

If you look at the entry for recommend, you will not see any reference to two objects: The only object is the information that you are providing. Although it is technically possible to insert an indirect object for any verb, most people use a preposition with recommend, and I advise you to do the same.

If you want to specify the recipient, you should therefore use the preposition to. Note that if the recipient is the person that you are talking to, it is not necessary to specify the recipient:

May I recommend a group class to deal with your anger

For anybody else, you should use to:

I recommended an anger management class to him
I recommended to him that he should take a group class to deal with his anger

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    I don't agree. The double object construction is generally available for ditransitive verbs in English, and doesn't need to be specified lexically: He gave/owed/promised/showed me the money. It is even available when a singly transitive verb has a benefactive indirect object added: She baked me a cake = She baked a cake for me. It is true that the construction is less used with a longer verb, so "recommend pronoun article" only occurs 30 times in the Now corpus, against 12797 for "show pronoun article"; but it is perfectly grammatical.
    – Colin Fine
    Apr 11, 2017 at 10:39
  • @ColinFine; fair comment. I have removed the not correct paragraph.
    – JavaLatte
    Apr 11, 2017 at 10:43
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You don't need it: this construction is generally available with ditransitive verbs.

I gave the book to him = I gave him the book.

She offered a drink to me = She offered me a drink.

So

May I recommend a group class to you to deal with your anger = May I recommend you a group class to deal with your anger.

Having said that, the construction is much more frequent with short, common verbs like "give" and send" than with longer verbs such as "recommend". The NOW corpus has the following numbers of instances of the construction "verb pronoun article" with different verbs:

  • give 199408
  • send 29430
  • show 12797
  • offer 7439
  • sell 1932
  • owe 1853
  • read 905
  • promise 469
  • recommend 30
  • demonstrate 4

As you see, there are not many instances of "recommend" used in this way in the corpus.

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  • Do you have any references about length being a determining factor?
    – JavaLatte
    Apr 11, 2017 at 15:48
  • No, and I may be wrong about that. It is a surmise, from my introspection.
    – Colin Fine
    Apr 11, 2017 at 15:57
  • germanic vs latin etymology could work. Northern European languages use VPA, but latin languages use PVA. *terms and conditions apply. As always.
    – JavaLatte
    Apr 11, 2017 at 16:31
  • I agree with Colins. I never heard people use "recommend me" or "demonstrate me", however " promise me" isn't that rare. Short verbs are popular with this construction. Apr 11, 2017 at 17:34
  • @SovereignSun: English words of northern european origin tend to be short, for example go, do, get, take, like, owe, put, eat and all the short words in Colin's list apart from offer, whereas words of latin origin tend to be longer. The last three in Colin's list are all from latin. So, is length the determining factor for VPA construction, or is etymology? Difficult to say.
    – JavaLatte
    Apr 12, 2017 at 13:33

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