Say Bob wanted to ask Alice some question, but Alice asked Bob to find Carol for an answer. When talking to Carol, which one is correct?

  1. "Hi, Alice referred me to you / Hi, I was referred to you by Alice"

  2. "Hi, Alice referred you to me / Hi, you were referred to me by Alice"

i.e. the ordering of Bob and Carol in the sentence when using "refer" as the verb.

Please also provide another verb for the other ordering.

1 Answer 1


Both of those formations are acceptable in spoken English.

In writing, or in a more formal setting, for example when talking to a Doctor, or a respected stranger — the first choice “referred me to you” is better because it carries a higher sense of respect for C.

(This is because C is not being implied or assumed to do something.)

If you’re used to a language where you use a formal word like “Vous/Sie/Usted” for respected strangers, this is the same idea.

However, this is a subtle point. In many situations, like in a professional office environment where A, B and C all work for the same company or department, choice #1 is quite acceptable.

  • 1
    Wow thank you! An amazing word "refer" is. I was expecting either one but not both to be correct. Wish other words like "pay" is the same: "I pay $100 to you" is the same as "You pay $100 to me" :) Oct 15, 2018 at 23:51

You must log in to answer this question.

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