If we start with this sentence:

The girl gave me the information I wanted.

Then which is the right question to ask about that situation:

What did the girl give you?


What did the girl give to you?

1 Answer 1


"What did the girl give you?" is a perfectly formed sentence. "What" is the direct object of "give", and "you" is its indirect object. This is the standard format for a question involving both a direct and indirect object.

It is also fine to say, "What did the girl give to you?" In this case the indirect object ("you") becomes the object of the preposition "to", and the verb "give" has no indirect object.

Either construction is idiomatic, and both questions mean the same thing.

  • 1
    For some reason, I think adding the word to works better when someone gives me something physical (e.g., "What did the girl give to you?" Ans: "She gave me a pen.") But when she is giving me something less tangible (e.g., information, a smile, a wink, a hard time, herpes, etc.), then I think the question reads better without the to: "What did she give you?" But this is more of a peculiarity than a hard rule.
    – J.R.
    Jun 5, 2019 at 17:18
  • There is no need to use the to. What did she give you? She gave me a pen. You wouldn't bother with: She gave a pen to me, usually. This answer is 100% accurate.
    – Lambie
    Jun 5, 2019 at 17:20

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