19

I was given two movie tickets by my mother

I was using Grammarly and it says "by" should be replaced by "from".

Please find a link to the Grammarly checker here.

  • 11
    No, it is not incorrect. Can you provide a link to the page in Grammarly that suggests this? – Kate Bunting Feb 8 at 9:12
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    You are questioning Grammarly's accuracy (which is neither good nor bad, Grammarly often gives good advice, but sometimes it doesn't). Why do you think Grammarly is wrong this time? (I'm not saying whether it's right or wrong in this case.) Please don't answer me in a comment, but edit your response into your question. – CJ Dennis Feb 8 at 11:59
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    Grammarly is rubbish. Don't trust it. – TonyK Feb 8 at 20:55
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    @TonyK I wouldn't say Grammarly is rubbish. I know English well enough to not need it, but I work with two guys who have dyslexia and they find Grammarly invaluable. They also know English well enough to know when to ignore its advice. – CJ Dennis Feb 8 at 23:42
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    It is not wrong but would mean something different: I was given two letters from my mother by my uncle. (Of course the longer the sentence the more awkward the passive, but I think it is valid.) – Peter - Reinstate Monica Feb 10 at 11:06
28

Using "by" is correct. From would also be acceptable. Grammarly seems to compare your sentence with one using "received".

I received two tickets by my mother (not correct, this must be "from")

However, your sentence uses a passive verb form, and "by" is the usual way to introduce the (semantic) subject.

Unless there is other context (such as contrast), it would normally be better to phrase in the active voice: "My mother gave me two tickets."

  • 22
    Re: "From would also be acceptable": Well, sort of: "I was given two movie tickets from my mother" means something quite different. It's not grammatical under the OP's intended interpretation. – ruakh Feb 8 at 22:47
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    This may be grammatically the answer - but if one uses 'from' it changes the intended meaning. The tickets were from mother, but she did not necessarily give them. Which was explicit using by. – Tim Feb 9 at 8:50
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    @Tim Exactly. Also being given tickets by your mother doesn't imply the tickets were from her, they could be from your father for all we know but your mother gave them to you. – John Hamilton Feb 10 at 5:12
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    Ick! "From" just sounds wrong. I am surprised to hear that some think that it is grammatically correct. – Mawg says reinstate Monica Feb 10 at 6:22
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    If someone said "I was given two tickets from my mother" then the immediate question is "Who gave them to you?". Not your mother, obviously even though they are from her. – Steve Ives Feb 10 at 12:57
45

If person X gave you an object Y, then you can say correctly:

I was given Y by X.

I received Y from X.

In a totally different meaning, you could say "I was given a bottle of wine from Chile" ("from" means where the wine came from), or "I received a letter by mail" (the mode of transportation).

Just noticed you can combine it:

I was given a letter by my mother.
I was given a letter from my mother.

In the first case, someone unknown wrote you a letter, and your mother gave it to you. In the second case, your mother wrote you a letter, and someone unknown gave it to you.

To make it worse,

I was given a letter by my mother.

could also mean that your mother wrote a letter to someone, and later someone handed it to you. With "by" meaning who was the author. You would avoid writing the sentence like that because it would likely be misunderstood, you would instead say

I was given a letter written by my mother.

And if your father gave you that letter, you wouldn't say

I was given a letter written by my mother by my father

but

My father gave me a letter written by my mother.

  • Thank you for this thorough and helpful answer. Which means Grammarly may be somewhat right in suggesting changing the sentence, not because the sentence is necessarily grammatically wrong, but because it is very ambiguous. – Falco Feb 10 at 14:57
  • @Falco: The original sentence, with movie tickets, is not ambiguous in the slightest. If it were, say, “I was given a book by my mother”, then yes, it would be ambiguous (at least without context); but the original sentence is absolutely fine. – PLL Feb 11 at 11:37
  • @PLL "by my mother" could mean "My mother gave me" or "Someone gave me tickets which belonged to my mother" or "My mother runs her own little cinema and prints tickets" – Falco Feb 11 at 14:57
  • @Falco: At least to my ear (native British-English speaker, also lived in the US/Canada for quite a few years), “…tickets by my mother” certainly can’t mean “…tickets that belonged to my mother”; it could conceivably mean “…tickets designed/printed by my mother”, but that reading is a bit of a stretch, both grammatically and semantically. If those readings seem more natural/salient to you, then I’d be very interested to know where you’re from — I’m pretty sure they’re not natural in any dialect of English I’m familiar with. – PLL Feb 11 at 16:49
  • @PLL my English has an Irish background. You're right the interpretation is a bit of a stretch. but "I got tickets from my mother"' sounds more natural to me. The passive given by sounds a little construed to me. "I was given these tickets by my mother" would be ok, since the focus is on the tickets, but otherwise the passive form seems unnecessary – Falco Feb 12 at 7:14
-2

"Was given" is a false passive. In the sentence,

My mother gave two tickets to me,

the two tickets are the thing being given. You are not being given. Something is being given to you. So here, both you and Grammarly are wrong - even if you replaced "by" with "from", your mother still can't give a person. "I received two tickets from my mother" would be correct.

(Unnecessary jargon): The phrase "two tickets" would be called the "direct object", and "you" would be called the "indirect object". To use the passive voice, you would have to say "Two tickets were given to me by my mother".

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    This answer is simply wrong, I’m afraid; the OP’s sentence is perfectly normal and correct English. Give and similar ditransitive verbs can form passives with either of their two semantic objects becoming the grammatical subject. – PLL Feb 11 at 11:41

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