Raymond Murphy says to use the preposition "to" after the verb "write" (write a letter to somebody), but the famous song contains following words:

I'm gonna sit right down and write myself a letter.

How can you explain that? Thank you in advance.

  • The answers you've been given here are good, but I would also caution: Do not look at popular songs for examples of good grammar and usage. They're written to sound good, not to be grammatically correct.
    – stangdon
    Apr 27, 2017 at 15:25

2 Answers 2


"to write" is used here as a transitive verb and "a transitive verb can also have an indirect object, which is a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase that comes before a direct object and indicates the person or thing that receives what is being given or done. Many common verbs can be used with both direct and indirect objects." [Source]

  • Send me a letter
  • Write me a poem
  • Give him the towel

*The indirect object in Italics and the direct object in Bold


Ditransitive verbs (i.e verbs that can take two objects) have two patterns : Prepositional pattern and dative-movement pattern.

Okay let me explain

Prepositional pattern is when the direct object follows the verb and the indirect object is moved into a prepositional phrase (that is usually preceded by for or to). For example,

  • I write a letter to myself (The direct object is "a letter" and is followed by a prepositional phrase).

Dative-movement pattern is when the verb is followed by an indirect object and direct object consecutively.

  • I write myself a letter (The indirect object is "myself" and the direct object is "a letter").
  • 1
    +1 But I think most contemporary grammarians would distinguish between the syntactic construction and the semantic role and say that myself is the semantic Recipient in both constructions but it's only an "indirect object" when it's in object position, not when it's the oblique in the prepositional construction. Apr 27, 2017 at 10:50

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