Q: I found following explanation in some forum site but somebody argued that "I envy you your car." form is used usually, too. Is that right? Which opinion is right?

Envy, is rarely used with a direct and indirect object - "I envy you your car."; it is usually, "I am envious of your car." or "I envy your car."

  • I found this ELU post Why do we say “I envy you your <something>”? to help you provide more context.
    – Em.
    Dec 1, 2018 at 7:54
  • "I envy you your car" is fine. It's a ditransitive construction where "you" is indirect object and "your car" is direct object. The meaning is the same as the monotransitive "I envy you for your car". Note though that "you" is indirect object in the ditransitive construction and direct object in the monotransitive one.
    – BillJ
    Dec 1, 2018 at 10:05
  • Your envy does not give my car to me or give me the benefit of a car. That is to say, the "you" of "I envy you your car" is not an indirect object. The statement "I envy you your car" is valid English, roughly equivalent to "I envy you because of your car" or "I envy you having a car". Those are the roles of a direct object / object complement pairing, not an indirect/direct object pairing. Dec 1, 2018 at 18:22
  • “You" and "your car” are core complements of “envy”, Oi and Od repectively. The Od of the monotransitive "I envy you for your car" becomes the Oi of the ditransitive. Compare "They fined us" ~ "they fined us £100", where the single object of the monotransitive ("us") corresponds to the Oi of the ditransitive. This has nothing to do with objective complements which rename, define or add meaning to an Od, as in "They elected him president". The relationship between "you" and "your car" is clearly quite different to that between "him" and "president".
    – BillJ
    Dec 2, 2018 at 10:25
  • Note also that the Oxford dictionary gives such constructions with "envy" as consisting of two objects: link. Btw, I'm inclined to agree with TR's answer inasmuch as such constructions mainly occur with intangible objects
    – BillJ
    Dec 2, 2018 at 12:55

1 Answer 1


In my experience, that locution, when used in conversation (as distinct from literary uses) is most often used with intangible things:

I envy you your freedom.

I envy you your stamina.

And I would say that it is not a rare locution when used that way, whereas

I envy you your Mercedes.

I envy you your swimming pool.

would be rarely heard in conversation, most likely because we do not as freely admit to our envy of material things. But this pattern would be fairly common in a book, or even in a kind of gossipy story-telling:

She envied her cousin her good looks.

He envies his classmates their success.

All things considered, I am envious of your {X} or is envious of is heard far more often than the pattern above, at least in conversational American English.

You must log in to answer this question.

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