could you help me understand this?

source : "common mistakes at CAE"

page 9, question 5

"Are these sentences right or wrong? Correct those which are wrong."

4 - "I complained about the service and they agreed to have my money back"


So I thought the answer should be " ... and they agreed to give my money back"

but the answer key says : "... and they agreed to give me my money back"


I tried searching on the web, but both appears to be right. When there's no back , the subject that will receive the money is explicit

so... are both right? should I "always" use the structure "give + subject + object" or ""give + object + 'to' subject" ?

Thanks a lot and sorry any mistakes.

  • No, you can say you are thankful and want to give back or give back to the community. Commented Apr 30, 2021 at 16:27

1 Answer 1


The phrasal verb "to give back" can be constructed in two ways. (OALD)

a] give somebody something back
b] give something back (to somebody)

The parentheses in the second construction mean that the indirect object is not necessary; therefore the following are correct;

  • Give me my money back.
  • Give my money back.

The second form is not often used; however, it is correct and it can be verified in the books that it is in use (comparison, occurrences of "give my money back").

According to this information, both possibilities are correct.

  • 1
    @Votric "To have my money back" is not correct, I believe; it should be "to let me have my money back". I haven't paid attention to the question of possible differences between BrE and AmE, but the fact that in the OALD no special mention (such as "North American)" is found beside the entries, is an assurance that the information is true for both variants of the language.
    – LPH
    Commented Apr 30, 2021 at 17:56
  • 1
    Macmillan has a clear example of the non-IO usage: 'The company had to give back all the money customers had paid.' Commented Apr 30, 2021 at 18:04
  • 1
    @Votric I'd say it is a mistake, due, possibly, to the fact that in the spoken language the shortened form could be even less frequent than what is shown on the ngram, the frequency given by this information taking into account only the written material. Of course, it is sometimes the case that written material reflects the spoken language, particularly in those cases of utterances that are central in this latter aspect of the language.
    – LPH
    Commented Apr 30, 2021 at 20:38
  • 1
    I would say that "Give my money back" is more likely to be used when someone has taken your physical cash and you want them to return the actual coins and notes. In that case it is short for "give my money back to me". In the case of a transaction you wish to cancel you don't care about the same units being returned, you just want the other party to give you an equivalent amount, you might have given them ten £10 notes for example but you would be happy to have five £20 notes returned. If you had paid by card or bank transfer you want your account crediting with the same amount.
    – BoldBen
    Commented May 1, 2021 at 4:42
  • 1
    @BenjaminHarman Right, it would have been more thoughtful on my part to mention that the correctness had to do with sense only, not grammar.
    – LPH
    Commented May 1, 2021 at 8:45

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