I know that some verbs only take second object. In essence,

  1. I suggest you to pay the tax -- is wrong.

  2. I suggest you pay the tax -- is correct.

  3. I said something to her -- is correct.

  4. I said to her something -- is wrong.

I want to know that, what do you name such verbs ? How can I know more about such verbs ? Where should seek for more verbs similar to suggest and say ?

It really bothers me, especially when I want to construct a sentence. I always have doubt about correctness of the sentence.


3 Answers 3


This is a big question: you need to be clear about a few things before we look at the examples. Best make yourself a cup of coffee before you start reading :-).

"Suggest" and "say" are both normal verbs: they both take a subject, they both take an object. The object is what you are suggesting or saying. There are lots of possibilities for things that you can suggest: see here.

One of the ways to specify a suggestion is with a that-clause:

I suggested [that we should update the web site]

This is where it gets confusing: sometimes we leave out the "that":

I suggested [we should update the web site]

If you want to specify a recipient- the person who receives what you are suggesting or saying- you have to use the preposition "to" followed by the a noun or pronoun.

If the suggestion is a noun, it goes next to the verb, with the recipient at the end:

I suggested refinancing to John

If it's more complex we put the recipient first, followed by the object.

I suggested to John [that we should update the web site]

Sometimes the 'to' is omitted: the noun or pronoun on its own is called an indirect object. The indirect object has to go between the verb and the object: here are examples with and without the 'to'.

I gave the file to John - normal

I gave John the file - indirect object

Taking your examples one at a time:

  1. I suggest you to pay the tax

This is indeed wrong: "to pay the tax" isn't one of the allowed objects for "suggest". If you used "advise" instead, that works, because advise takes the recipient as an object:

I advise you to pay the tax.

  1. I suggest you pay the tax

This is correct: if we put back in the "that", we get

I suggest that you pay the tax

  1. I said something to her

This is correct: we have object-to-recipient

  1. I said to her something

This is wrong, because a simple noun object must come first unless it's an indirect object. If you were to replace "something: with a more complex expression, the word order would be correct:

I said to her that she should just forget him.

I said to her "Just forget him!"

The indirect objects link contains a list of other words that work like this.

  • Thanks for the answer , but it just restates the question. The question asks How can I know 'to pay the task' is not one of the allowed objects. Where can I find words similar to suggest. In fact, you can never suggest someone, but you can suggest something to someone. I want to know more similar verbs. I know how must I use "suggest" and "say"
    – Cardinal
    Commented Mar 25, 2016 at 20:29
  • I don't know of any list. If you want to check a particular word, consult the Collins online dictionary and check whether it says "(may take a clause as object)" next to the meaning that you are interested in. collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/suggest
    – JavaLatte
    Commented Mar 25, 2016 at 20:39
  • Maybe you should change the title of your question to say that you are interested in verbs that take a clause as a direct object: the "indirect object" is irrelevant, because, "give" and "send" take an indirect object but do not take a clause as a direct object.
    – JavaLatte
    Commented Mar 25, 2016 at 20:43
  • ah , sorry I meant direct object , I feel stupid ... , It was a typo
    – Cardinal
    Commented Mar 25, 2016 at 20:47
  • @Cardinal, we all make mistakes. Its not about the second object though, direct or indirect. Consider the sentence "i suggested that we should go". "Suggested" has just one object- the that-clause "that we should go". Your second example also has a single object- the that-clause "that you pay the tax" but just to confuse you the "that" is omitted.
    – JavaLatte
    Commented Mar 25, 2016 at 21:09

You simply have to learn which verbs work with no objects, one object, or two objects.

Verbs that take objects are transitive and verbs that don't are called intransitive.

Many verbs can be followed by that to express an event or situation, which is often omitted.

To X doesn't always identify an object after it comes after a verb, sometimes it identifies the "direction" an activity, or an intended recipient.

I pointed my finger to the button.

The button is not an object of pointed, it's the direction in which the pointing occurred.

Suggest and say use the sense of to X as in "intended recipient."

I suggested this to him.

This is an object of suggested, and him is the intended recipient.

How is this different than the below?:

I gave the ball to him. (Give takes a direct and indirect object, the ball and to him are both objects of gave.)

I don't think there's any way to tell besides knowing the meanings of the verbs. Any verb with two objects will mean something similar to give, tell, or show in some sense.

There aren't that many two-object words in English so it's easy to know at least all of the very common ones, at least the ones which use *to + {indirect object}" - give, lend, offer, pass, post, read, sell, send, show, promise, tell. Reference.

  • 1
    I think explain is one of the more problematic verbs for learners. "Please explain me the idea" is a pretty common error. There is some related discussion here that might be of interest here: ell.stackexchange.com/q/81617
    – ColleenV
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 17:10
  • My question is straightforward; I want to know verbs similar to suggest and explain as @ColleenV has fortunately mentioned above. "you can explain sth to sb" but you cannot "explain sb sth"- it is ungrammatical.By the way Thanks for the Answer
    – Cardinal
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 10:20

Well, I admit your question doesn't have a straight short answer, but I'll try.

Say in your example is a verb taking both a direct and an indirect object. You can probably do a simple seach on verbs taking direct and indirect objects. Also I suggest searching say as a reporting verb, too.

The rule of thumb for the placement of direct (DO) and indirect object (IO) is as follows

Verb + DO + preposition + IO e.g.

I sent a letter to him.

Verb + IO + DO e.g.

I sent him a letter.

However this rule seems useless for say because you cannot say someone something. Instead, we use tell as in

They told me (NOT said me) something funny.


They said something funny to me.

We use suggest when we want to say it's a good idea for someone to do something. Other verbs that can be used here are recommend (also advise but it's stronger than these two and usually used to warn someone).

We use recommend(R) in four common structures (there are more, consult a dictionary):

R + someone + infinitive e.g.

I would recommend parents to keep a tab on their children.

R + that clause e.g.

I would recommend that parents keep a tab on their children.

R + gerund e.g.

I would never recommend using a sunbed on a regular basis.

R + something +to+ somebody e.g,

He recommended his travel agency to me.

We generally use suggest(S) in two common structure (there are more):

S + gerund

Kate suggested going out for dinner.

S + that clause

Her mother suggested that she should go and see the doctor.

To remember this better, keep in mind that because recommend and suggest have the meaning of should in themselves, you can drop should and use simple form of the verb in the that clause. Needless to say using that is optional.

Check the link out for verb categories based on the structure they're used in a sentence.

  • edufind.com/english-grammar/reporting-verbs
    – Yuri
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 8:55
  • Thanks for the Answer. I am wondering why people talk about the how we should use suggest and say with second object. I've already mentioned, in the original question, that I know how we should use these two verbs. The question asks for more similar verbs. The confusing verbs like suggest. Should I dedicate my rest of life to search a dictionary, one verb after another?
    – Cardinal
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 9:40
  • You're welcome. Have checked the link I posted as a comment? You'll see the common structures we use with some verbs which includes suggest, say, recomment, tell, etc. Actually the list that you're looking for is a long list! We just try to give some rules behind these structure. Otherwise to learn these, just being a native speaker suffices so that you've heard these structures over and over again that you don't need these rules of thumbs anymore. But we're not native speakers. That's the sad part 😉
    – Yuri
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 9:59
  • Exactly, we are not native. I've checked the link, but, unfortunately, it does not reveal anything new about my concerns. However, you are name suggests that you are Persian. So am I.
    – Cardinal
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 10:47
  • I'm not quite sure what you're looking for then. I suggest looking up the word you want to use before you use it in a sentence. Honest to speak, I learnt mostly in this way. I can't think of an occassion that I bothered memorizing a boring list of verbs. Whenever I'm not sure about using a verb in a sentence, I look it up and remember it afterwards forever. I believe learning a language is actually learning the collocations. BTW, yes I'm Persian, nice meeting you 😊
    – Yuri
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 10:56

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