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I have been told that the following sentence is wrong:

I'd like you to indicate me the place

Supposedly, I should say "I'd like you to indicate the place to me" instead. Is that right? If so, why ? For instance, I could use the synonym "to show" in that exact way: I'd like you to show me the place. I thought I could always choose the order of the direct and indirect objects after a bitransitive verb.

  • indicate in English is not indicar in Portuguese. Indicate is not used for show in English. show or point out. – Lambie Oct 4 '19 at 17:18
  • @Lambie wordreference.com/enpt/indicate – Alan Evangelista Oct 4 '19 at 17:21
  • "Kyle indicated [in the deposition] the office building where he works." is not: ele indicou no sentido de mostrar com a mão ou dedo. All the other sentences in that Word Reference site are idiomatic. Ele indicou o prédio is: He pointed out the building where he works. There is a lot of junk on that site. indicate in English and Portuguese are very different. – Lambie Oct 4 '19 at 18:23
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The verbs indicate and show just work differently, even when they mean the same thing.

Show can take an indirect object, like "me", which specifies who to show the direct object to, as in these examples. (See Google Books for more.)

Show me the money.

Show the doctor where it hurts.

Show the teacher your homework.

You cannot switch the order of the indirect and direct objects. Show the money me does not make grammatical sense in English (unless you really mean to show "me" to the money).

Indicate does not take an indirect object. It takes only a direct object. To specify who should see the thing indicated, you must use a prepositional phrase, typically starting with to, like these:

Indicate to the doctor where it hurts.

Did those contusions indicate to you a bruise or concussion? [Source: Simplified from this transcript of a courtroom trial.]

The prepositional phrase has more freedom in where it can be placed in the sentence. These are also fine:

Indicate where it hurts to the doctor.

Did those contusions indicate a bruise or concussion to you?

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You can't use "indicate" as a bitransitive verb this way because it doesn't operate on the two subjects in the same way. With an object you are pointing out you can say "indicate [object]", but you need the word "to" in reference to the subject to whom you are indicating.

Some similarly constructed sentences might work that way, for example:

I sent a letter to my friend.

Could be rewritten as:

I sent my friend a letter.

"Sent" is bitransitive here because it is acting on both "my friend" and "a letter". This sentence works because you can say both "I sent my friend" and "I sent a letter". It flows idiomatically and by the end it is clear you sent the letter to your friend.

However, you can't say "I'd like you to indicate me", and that is why your example doesn't scan. It should be either:

I'd like you to indicate to me the place (grammatical, but not idiomatic).

OR

I'd like you to indicate the place to me.

More naturally though, I would probably say either:

Can you show me the place?

OR

Can you point out the place to me?

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  • Could you please explain the ambiguity in "I'd like you to indicate me the place" ? It can obviously mean "I'd like you to indicate the place to me", but "I'd like you to indicate me to the place" does not make sense to me. Also, couldn't the same argument apply to sending someone, eg "The headhunter sent me new applicants for the job ?" – Alan Evangelista Oct 3 '19 at 18:58
  • @AlanEvangelista "Indicate me" sounds like you are asking someone to point you out. We just don't use it that way, it isn't idiomatic without the word "to" to differentiate between what you are indicating and to whom. – Astralbee Oct 4 '19 at 7:51
  • In Portuguese, indicar o lugar means: show me the place or point the place out to me/point out the place to me in English. The verbs come from Latin but are not used idiomatically the same way. – Lambie Oct 4 '19 at 17:19

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