I think they are both grammatically correct.

Is there any difference between them? I have learned that some expressions are used only in certain situations despite their correctness in grammar.

So, I'm wondering if one of them is generally used while the other is used only in certain situation (which could be odd in reality).

Thank you.

  • 1
    It's entirely a stylistic choice whether to append preposition to in your cited context. You can safely ignore any pedants saying you shouldn't end a sentence with a preposition, but that doesn't imply you should include it. It's much the same as the choice between (ditransitive) I gave John a present and (monotranstive + preposition) I gave a present to John. Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 15:08
  • @FumbleFingers How about Who did you buy the present (for)?
    – listeneva
    Commented Nov 4, 2021 at 10:18
  • 1
    Consider I gave him a present and I gave a present to him, then compare I bought him a present and I bought a present for him. Both verbs can be used ditransitively (i.e. - direct and indirect objects can be included without the need for prepositions). That's why it's optional whether to include a preposition in a wh- question construction, but note that you can also "front" the preposition (For who/whom did you buy the present?). Commented Nov 4, 2021 at 14:03

1 Answer 1


Yes; you would normally include "to" when it's a question like this, even though "I gave Jim the present" and "I gave the present to Jim" are equally valid. Part of the issue is, in the non-question form, you change the order of the words. Since word order is important to questions in English, you probably wouldn't (conceivably, if you wanted to express great surprise and emphasis, you might say "You gave WHO the present?" ...except, technically, then it ought to be "whom." And it would really only be likely if you were echoing an earlier statement-sentence: "I gave Jim the present." "You gave who the present?")

  • You certainly wouldn't normally include "to" when asking You gave to who[m] the present?, but syntactically it seems to me the justification for including the preposition is just the same there as it is in OP's example. Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 15:11

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