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"He explained to me this stuff"

Here the preposition phrase " to me" stands before direct object. Are there other verbs where prepositional phrase can be before direct object? Can I say, for example, "he offered to me this thing"?

Can you please provide me more information about this kind of verbs? Or some verbs with which I have to do the same.

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  • Where did you find this? Sep 4, 2022 at 8:11
  • I don't think it has anything to do with the type of verb other than that it must be used monotransitively, as in your example.
    – BillJ
    Sep 4, 2022 at 9:23
  • So only verb "explain" can let us use prepositional phrase with "to" before direct object? E.g I can say "explain to me that" But can't "give to me that" ? Sep 4, 2022 at 12:10
  • Object postposing only occurs with heavy direct objects. A few verbs like "give", "send" and "write" are found.
    – BillJ
    Sep 4, 2022 at 13:41

2 Answers 2

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You will not hear a native English speaker say "He explained to me this stuff" or "He offered to me this thing." However, as you can read in the comments, it is possible to construct a similar phrase that makes sense, so I suppose I can't say they are grammatically incorrect.

If you're wondering whether you can use those phrases, the answer is "No." Instead you should say the revised sentences below. You will find that when a sentence contains "to me," it most often ends the sentence. If it doesn't end the sentence, it usually begins the sentence.

He explained this stuff to me.

He offered this thing to me.

You can also say:

He offered me this thing.

But you cannot say:

He explained me this stuff.

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    You might reconsider the sentence in your answer, reading: "There are no such verbs." Sep 4, 2022 at 7:40
  • However, we can say, for example "He explained to me where I needed to go to collect my ticket". Because what is being explained is a longer phrase, it would be odd to add 'to me' on the end of it. Sep 4, 2022 at 8:39
  • I wouldn't say it's "not correct", Monotransitive direct objects can be postposed, Here's an attested example from a top-notch grammar: He gave to charity everything he earned from the concert
    – BillJ
    Sep 4, 2022 at 8:41
  • @KateBunting That''s because "where I needed to go to collect my ticket" is not an object but a subordinate interrogative clause (embedded question).
    – BillJ
    Sep 4, 2022 at 8:46
  • Note that object postposing occurs only with monotransitive direct objects, and only if they are 'heavy, as in the example I gave above.
    – BillJ
    Sep 4, 2022 at 13:40
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English has a "habit" called End Weight. If possible, we like to put longer "heavier" phrases at the end of sentences. You see this, for example, in the way that English speaker will try to keep the subject of a sentence quite short, but may have long phrases after the verb.

Now suppose the direct object is "heavy". We might postpone it to after a short light prepositional phrase.

I contacted by email the department assistant who was processing my case.

It would not be ungrammatical to put "by email" at the end of the sentence, but by postponing the long direct object, you give it "end weight". However if the direct object is "light" (for example a pronoun, or a name) you would not postpone it.

I contacted John by email.

There is no real limit on the verb, eg "eat":

Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls.

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