Shouldn't have "to be" been used in the following sentence, if not, then why?

Instead, President Johnson ordered all land (to be) returned to it is former owners.

It is from Crash Course US history. It is at 2 minute and 5 second.

  • This is a fairly common idiom. It is difficult to say whether it is strictly 'correct'. However it is easily understood by native speakers. Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 14:07
  • The phrase "… returned to it is former owners ." is broken English. It is very ungrammatical. The presenter actually says: its former owners
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Apr 16, 2022 at 7:22

1 Answer 1


That Crash Course you always ask about is usually not very good.

"To order something be done or to be done" is not great. Normal usage triggers: order someone to do something.

"I order you to do this immediately." That's the right way to use it.

"He ordered his men to return all land immediately".

And you can't really order land (give orders to land), you order a person to do something. You can, though, order food in a restaurant.

So, it really should be:

He ordered administration officials to return the land to former owners immediately.

He ordered his lieutenant (to) do that immediately.

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