Eg: "I have nothing to tell you". Why is this sentence right if rule prescripts that indirect object can't be used without direct one? In sentence above verb in form of infinitive "tell" is followed by indirect object "you" without direct object. Doesn't it otherwise have to be like "I have nothing to tell to you"?

  • It's interesting that this sounds OK to me, but I strongly prefer "I have nothing to give to you" over "I have nothing to give you". Maybe it's just that tell is commonly used this way.
    – Stuart F
    Oct 26, 2022 at 11:39
  • 3
    Does this answer your question? Why is this sentence right?
    – Stuart F
    Oct 26, 2022 at 11:40

1 Answer 1


I have nothing [to tell you].

The simple answer is that there is no indirect object in this sentence -- just two direct objects.

"Nothing" is direct object of "have", and "you" is direct object of "tell" in the bracketed subordinate clause.

  • So then in sentence "there is nothing to show you" is (by this logic) "you" direct object of "show"? Is there any rule that can explain it, sir? Oct 26, 2022 at 13:26
  • @PetroProbka Yes: "you" is direct object of "show". If there is only object in a clause it is always a direct object. This may help [link]grammarphobia.com/blog/2010/11/object-lessons.html) Scroll down to the bit commencing "In addition if you have time ... ".
    – BillJ
    Oct 26, 2022 at 13:53

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