Why is "give me", and not "give to me" correct? As this is dative, and we are told that it is translated (from my language) with the preposition "to" in English.

  • 2
    Modern-day English does not have a dative case. "Give me the money" and "Give the money to me" are fine, but not *"Give to me the money"
    – BillJ
    Oct 12, 2017 at 19:20
  • @BillJ English does not have morphological dative but has semantic dative, governed by the preposition "to" (and morhologically is oblique case, distinct from nominative). Since the first phrase has no "to" proposition, the indirect object is not in Dative but morphologically it is still not nominative (it's "me", not "I").
    – Anixx
    May 13, 2022 at 21:25

2 Answers 2


Here is the scoop on this in contemporary English. There are two possibilities, basically:

1) Give something to someone and :

Give the book to John.


Give it to him.

2) Give someone something

Give John the book.


Give him the book.

So, basically these patterns show that: give is followed by a direct object and then to and the indirect object. Or give is followed by the indirect object, then the direct object.

It is useful to memorize and practice these forms/patterns.


It would be a mistake to think that there will always be exact equivalents or one-to-one correspondences between English grammar and your native language's grammar. It is also not always possible to give reasons: often the learner just has to learn that some verbs follow certain patterns.

As far as give is concerned, it is an example of a ditransitive (or trivalent) verb - it has both a direct object and an indirect object.

UCL Grammar explains:

Some verbs occur with two Objects:

   We gave [John] [a present]

Here, the [Noun Phrase] a present undergoes the "action" (a present is what is given). So a present is the Direct Object. We refer to the NP John as the INDIRECT OBJECT.

Indirect Objects usually occur with a Direct Object, and they always come before the Direct Object. The typical pattern is:

Subject -- Verb -- Indirect Object -- Direct Object

Further examples are then provided - in each case the verb is followed first by an indirect object and then a direct object (the same pattern that give typically follows):

Tell me a story

He showed us his war medals

We bought David a birthday cake

Can you lend your colleague a pen?

The grammar explains that

Verbs which take an Indirect Object and a Direct Object are known as DITRANSITIVE verbs

and that sometimes they can double up as monotransitive verbs (e.g. "We bought a birthday cake").

As others have observed, give also allows an alternative pattern ("We gave a present to John").

  • Sure thing. A more technical explanation though I find that at the level of this question, a less technical explanation was better. I guess I should have mentioned other verbs that work the same way. In any event, I didn't think my answer deserved downvotes....
    – Lambie
    Oct 13, 2017 at 18:15
  • @Lambie Thanks for your feedback. I don't think your answer deserved downvotes either. Sorry, I don't know why you got those.
    – rjpond
    Oct 13, 2017 at 18:21

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .