Syntactic restrictions on distransitive passivization:
Why you can be baked a cake yet a cake can never be baked you
Collins Dictionary notes, with formatting emphasis added by me:
If the indirect object is mentioned after the passive verb, the sentence must use “to”.
That's a tiny bit of an oversimplification, but their point is sound. See this post's bottom section for exceptions to this rule, and why they exist.
Under passive inversion of verbs with two objects, only the indirect object can ever be promoted to the subject if you leave the other object “unmarked” the way it had been in the original.
That's because an unmarked object following the passive participle always has to be the original's direct object, never the original's indirect object. So not marking it makes it look like something it never was. That’s why the original with “the doll was made you” is not considered grammatical in most dialects of present-day English.
In order to promote the direct object instead of the indirect object, you “always” have to use dative alternation to change the old indirect object into a mere prepositional phrase under passive inversion of verbs of two objects.
When you have a verb that takes two different objects, then under passive inversion you can only promote the first object (typically the beneficiary, sometimes called the indirect object) to the subject while leaving the second object unchanged.
If instead you promote the second object, then you always have to mark the remaining object. If you leave it unchanged, it doesn't make sense because the unmarked scenario means that it was the original direct object not the original indirect object.
The single-object verbs never cause a problem because you never leave any second object behind when inverting subject and object:
- Jane wrote the book. (another normal one-object verb)
- ✅ The book was written by Jane. (passive inversion of sentence 1, swapping subject and object)
But the two-object verbs have restrictions that depend on which of their two objects you promote to the subject:
- Jane gave Dick the book. (now a two-object verb)
- ✅ Dick was given the book by Jane.
(passive inversion of the double-object sentence 3, promoting the original's indirect object to subject after inversion while leaving the original direct object unmarked in its same syntactic slot)
- ❌ The book was given ❌ Dick by Jane.
(INVALID passive inversion of the double-object sentence 3, because the direct object was promoted to the subject but the indirect object was not suitably marked, and an unmarked noun-phrase in that syntactic position immediately after the participle will always be read as the direct object)
- ✅ The book was given ✅ to Dick by Jane.
(passive inversion of the double-object sentence 3, promoting the direct object to subject and changing the original's indirect object into a prepositional phrase via dative alternation)
The problem with the original is that it promoted the direct object but left the indirect object or beneficiary unmarked, which makes it read wrong, just like in the ungrammatical sentence (5) above. The unmarked object left behind reads as having been the original's direct object. But it wasn't.
The solution is to mark the left-behind ‘beneficiary’ object using a preposition—instead of relying on word order to determine which object is which, a trick that only works when promoting the indirect object, not the direct one.
Are these prepositional passives?
No, this is not a case of a prepositional passive. A prepositional passive promotes the object of the preposition to the subject and strands the original preposition completely.
- The mouse ran up the clock.
- ✅ The clock was run up by the mouse.
- Goldilocks slept in my bed.
- ✅ My bed was slept in by Goldilocks.
A prepositional passive does not even require a transitive verb because there is no direct object involved at all here.
The original subject still becomes the object of a by X prepositional phrase, just as with other passives.
Exceptions: Alternate Markings, or None?
Contrary to Collins’s simplification, ditransitive passives do not strictly speaking always require the indirect object to be marked with to. There are two classes of exception to this.
Exception 1: Marking with for
Sometimes these instead use for instead of to, as in the original question. When you make a person a thing, the corresponding dative alternation into a prepositional phrase takes for the beneficiary rather than to.
Exception 2: No marking at all
The verb deny can be ditransitive, and it can also be passivized. When you deny a person a thing in this way, the OED notes that
In the passive either object may be made subject.
They provide this pair of citations with passives showing that both work. The first example promotes the indirect object and the second promotes the direct object:
a1616 W. Shakespeare Henry VI, Pt. 2 (1623)
ɪ. iii. 107 Then let him be denay'd the Regent-ship.
1814 I. D'Israeli Quarrels Auth. II. 277
All the consolations of Fame were denied him during his life.
So why is there no to preposition needed in the Disraeli quote?
With ditransitive deny, which is a privative verb, the indirect object is not actually the action's “beneficiary” in the strict sense. This might be why these are all possible:
- The guard denied him entrance.
(normal ditransitive use with indirect object and direct object)
- ✅ He was denied entrance (by the guard).
(indirect object promoted to subject, with direct object left unmarked following the passive verb)
- ✅ Entrance was denied him (by the guard).
(direct object promoted to subject, with indirect object left unmarked following the passive verb)
When there’s a beneficiary, though, you “can’t” have the indirect object after the passive verb without marking it with a preposition like to or for. Collins just oversimplifies the details for learners a little, that's all.
Exception 3: No passivization allowed
There are ditransitive verbs that won’t allow you to passivize them with either object. An example of this is when you elect a person to some position, like electing someone king. You can only passivize using the first of the two objects, not the second no matter whether you have to/for or not:
- The union elected Jack boss.
- ✅ Jack was elected boss by the union.
(passivize via first object as subject)
- ❌ Boss was elected ❌ Jack by the union.
(ungrammatical to passivize via second object as subject)
- ❌ Boss was elected ❌ to Jack by the union.
(ungrammatical to passivize via second object as subject using to for dative alternation on the first object because it is not an indirect object
or beneficiary here)
The reason you can’t passivize the second object is because no dative alternation to transform an indirect object into a prepositional phrase is possible with sentence (14):
- ❌ The union elected boss ❌to Jack.
(failed attempt at dative alternation of sentence 14)