A rose was given her

modus.irrealis

Senior Member
English, Canada
Hi,

This is an attempt to get an answer to the question of this post about how acceptable certain passive constructions are. To take a concrete example, let's say you had the following passive sentences:

1. A rose was given to her.
2. She was given a rose.
3. A rose was given her.

I assume that all English speakers accept 1 and 2 as perfectly grammatical and choosing between them is a matter of style and such, but what about 3? I have two questions: a) Do people find it acceptable in their own spoken English? and b) Do people consider it as Standard English?

Personally, I'd answer no to both questions and feel that 3. is wrong and has to be changed to either 1. or 2., but what are other people's judgments?
 
  • emma42

    Senior Member
    British English
    I think that 3) is probably grammatically correct, but it sounds archaic to me. Possibly it is used more in some regions. It sounds a bit Hiberno-English to me, but that could be my imagination.

    This is all off the top of my head, by the way!
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    Hi,

    This is an attempt to get an answer to the question of this post about how acceptable certain passive constructions are. To take a concrete example, let's say you had the following passive sentences:

    1. A rose was given to her.
    2. She was given a rose.
    3. A rose was given her.
    It doesn't work for me with just the 5 words.

    I can just [and only just] imagine 3 being used in a sentence such as: "A rose was given her by each of her suitors", and then only in a song or poem.
     

    MinaDidi

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    I agree with Brioche. I think it would work in a specific "artistic" capacity, as in a song or poem. But if an ESL student wrote it, I would mark it incorrect.

    So, I guess the answer to your two questions is no, but I could see how someone might use it in the above context.
     

    evilregis

    Senior Member
    English, Canada
    I agree with MinaDidi. I'm not an english grammar expert, but if I were asked, "A rose given her" is grammatically incorrect. I could also see it being used in poetry or some similar capacity.

    It seems that there are some very knowledgeable grammarians in here who will be able to tell you if it's technically correct or not. I will be very surprised if it is.
     

    Lucretia

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Hello,
    My rule of thumb is the following: if the direct object is placed before the indirect object (recipient) there must be the preposition to, it's like an extended hand.
    1. I showed Nelly the pictures.
    2. I showed the pictures to Nelly.
    3. Nelly was shown the pictures.
    4. The pictures were shown to Nelly.

    If the direct object is a personal pronoun, its place is just after the verb and it can't be moved to the end.
    5. I showed them to Nelly.
    6. I showed Nelly them. - wrong

    IMHO A rose was given her is plain wrong, even with additional words.
     

    okey-dokey

    Senior Member
    English / UK, London
    Hello,
    My rule of thumb is the following: if the direct object is placed before the indirect object (recipient) there must be the preposition to, it's like an extended hand.
    1. I showed Nelly the pictures.
    2. I showed the pictures to Nelly.
    3. Nelly was shown the pictures.
    4. The pictures were shown to Nelly.

    If the direct object is a personal pronoun, its place is just after the verb and it can't be moved to the end.
    5. I showed them to Nelly.
    6. I showed Nelly them. - wrong This is acceptable and often used (as a speaker of British English of 56 years)



    IMHO A rose was given her is plain wrong, even with additional words.
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    1. A rose was given to her.
    2. She was given a rose.
    3. A rose was given her.

    I assume that all English speakers accept 1 and 2 as perfectly grammatical and choosing between them is a matter of style and such, but what about 3? I have two questions: a) Do people find it acceptable in their own spoken English? and b) Do people consider it as Standard English?

    Personally, I'd answer no to both questions and feel that 3. is wrong and has to be changed to either 1. or 2., but what are other people's judgments?
    3 is all wrong!!! (foot-stamping smiley required!)
    A thing which is 'given' but not 'given to' is a recipient, in my mind.
    A man was given a prison sentence
    The house was given a new lease of life with a coat of paint
    A rose was given her - "given her what...?"



    It sounds a bit Hiberno-English to me, but that could be my imagination.
    I can't think why you would think that, emma. Irish uses dom 'to me', duit 'to you', 'to him', di 'to her', - etc.
     

    okey-dokey

    Senior Member
    English / UK, London
    Hi,

    This is an attempt to get an answer to the question of this post about how acceptable certain passive constructions are. To take a concrete example, let's say you had the following passive sentences:

    1. A rose was given to her.
    2. She was given a rose.
    3. A rose was given her.

    I assume that all English speakers accept 1 and 2 as perfectly grammatical and choosing between them is a matter of style and such, but what about 3? I have two questions: a) Do people find it acceptable in their own spoken English? and b) Do people consider it as Standard English?

    Personally, I'd answer no to both questions and feel that 3. is wrong and has to be changed to either 1. or 2., but what are other people's judgments?
    Applying simple rules and judging that a form is right or wrong puts one on dangerous ground. The context, register, phonology and so on are important. I don't agree that 3 (DO + was given + IO) is totally unacceptable because the deictic of the nominal group constituting the direct object has some influence. Whilst a rose was given her feels unaceptable there is a feeling of acceptability with the rose was given her. These examples were given me (sorry) by the BNC - a corpus of actual language samples. They all use a definite deictic or name. So it seems DO + was given + IO is acceptable when the direct object is already present in the situational context but not otherwise.

    In Filmer's view, just as absolute political power was given to Adam by God, so the whole earth was given him too; hence, subjects have neither political power nor any right to property and possessions.

    When, worn down at last, he mentioned a man who lived as far away as Prudhoe, the polite picked up a young fellow known as Billy the Badger, which apparently had nothing to do with his poaching activities, but was given him because he always wore a white muffler, the ends tucked into his trouser tops, and on Sundays, when he wore his best, which was a black coat and trousers, his pointed face above this ensemble roughly depicted the night creature of the woods.

    The courage of Peter er after his denial is something that was given him by the Holy Spirit.

    But by far the best gift was given me by a little red-haired girl, Betty, who gave me (a virgin boy) her body.

    I knew this to be true and believed firmly that when the word was given me in 1986 it would be fulfilled some time in the future.
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    In those example, the phrase is embedded in a long sentence.

    None is a simple five word job like "A rose was given her".
     

    modus.irrealis

    Senior Member
    English, Canada
    I didn't even think of the archaic angle, but I did find some examples in Shakespeare ("When the best hint was given him, he not took't" in Antony and Cleopatra). So I'm not surprised this construction is acceptable for some speakers, but looking at the responses from various locations, it does seem it's non-Standard. Thanks.
     

    Anais Ninn

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Wow, is that right? :eek: I am very surprised. It sounds plain wrong to me and, as an AE speaker, I don't recall hearing anyone talk in this way. Is it really common in BE?

    Anais

    Originally Posted by okey-dokey
    6. I showed Nelly them. - wrong This is acceptable and often used (as a speaker of British English of 56 years)
     

    okey-dokey

    Senior Member
    English / UK, London
    I didn't even think of the archaic angle, but I did find some examples in Shakespeare ("When the best hint was given him, he not took't" in Antony and Cleopatra). So I'm not surprised this construction is acceptable for some speakers, but looking at the responses from various locations, it does seem it's non-Standard. Thanks.

    Are you choosing to ignore the samples of real language recorded in the British National Corpus? Surely any meaningful analysis of language has to be based on samples of spoken and written language. If the analytical method is unscientific it is surely a waste of effort and time?
     

    okey-dokey

    Senior Member
    English / UK, London
    In those example, the phrase is embedded in a long sentence.

    None is a simple five word job like "A rose was given her".
    Brioche, we are discussing use of language. There is no need or place for restricting analysis to utterances of a fixed number of words. That would be a meaningless child's game.
     

    modus.irrealis

    Senior Member
    English, Canada
    Are you choosing to ignore the samples of real language recorded in the British National Corpus? Surely any meaningful analysis of language has to be based on samples of spoken and written language. If the analytical method is unscientific it is surely a waste of effort and time?
    No, I'm not ignoring them. Just because examples of something are found in the speech and writing of some native English speakers does not necessarily make it Standard English. The majority of replies, from a wide variety of locations, has been that the construction is in their view either wrong, archaic, or extremely limited, and I don't see why that doesn't lead to the conclusion that it is not Standard English. I mean, does every English speaker get to claim every aspect of their English is Standard? Should I start demanding, e.g., that winter and winner be recognized as homonyms by dictionaries? Is anyways suddenly Standard?

    I just wanted to know what various English speakers thought about the construction, and maybe I shouldn't have phrased part of it as a question about Standard English, but that seemed to me to be the easiest way to ask the question.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Brioche, we are discussing use of language. There is no need or place for restricting analysis to utterances of a fixed number of words. That would be a meaningless child's game.
    I didn't consider Brioche's post to be suggesting that we restrict analysis in any way. Is it not possible that a construction that is entirely natural with the additional context of a complex sentence might be out of place in a short, simple sentence?
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I am with Brioche on this one. On its own the sentence is strange but with more context it sounds acceptable, if poetic and indeed archaic.

    In any case it is not grammatically incorrect, and by no means substandard.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    BNC includes 3,174 instances of was given.
    In quoting examples of usage (or indeed any other stats) it is important to present the whole story. So, out of curiousity I had a look to see which of these were followed directly by a personal pronoun.
    I didn't count slang (... given him some ...), or examples in which the pronoun was possessive (... given her own TV show ...).

    Figures in () are the count of examples of was given to <>
    was given me - 5 (25)
    was given you - 0 (2)
    was given her - 1 (5)
    was given him - 3 (12)
    was given it - 0 (2)
    was given us - 1 (8)
    was given them - 0 (5)

    Adding them up:
    was given <> 10
    was given to <> 59

    There were no examples of was given <> coming at the end of a sentence.

    Summarising:
    was given <pronoun> is used in written British English of a good standard :)
    was given to <pronoun> is found a lot more often.
    was given <pronoun> is not used at the end of a sentence (BUT note that no examples found does not mean that it is in any way "not good").
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    That's very interesing, and, I can't help noticing, an argument against classifying "her" as an indirect object, and "to her" as something else. ;)
     

    ash93

    Senior Member
    England, United Kingdom - English but can speak Urdu, Memon and Hindi
    Hi,

    This is an attempt to get an answer to the question of this post about how acceptable certain passive constructions are. To take a concrete example, let's say you had the following passive sentences:

    1. A rose was given to her.
    2. She was given a rose.
    3. A rose was given her.

    I assume that all English speakers accept 1 and 2 as perfectly grammatical and choosing between them is a matter of style and such, but what about 3? I have two questions: a) Do people find it acceptable in their own spoken English? and b) Do people consider it as Standard English?

    Personally, I'd answer no to both questions and feel that 3. is wrong and has to be changed to either 1. or 2., but what are other people's judgments?
    I also think the same. The answer to both questions is no from me and it actually means that she was given to a rose, which makes absolutely no sense.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    The answer to both questions is "no" for me, also. However, it must have been Standard English at one time, since this construction appears in the King James Version of the Bible:

    "..and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations."

    "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    "..and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations."

    "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
    My first impulse was to say that "given her" is wrong, but your examples show clearly that it is merely a structure that is uncommon in modern English!

    Gaer
     

    sumguy720

    New Member
    English, U.S.A.
    Yes, all three are correct, however #3 is not used in common speech, but in poetry and apparently the bible!
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    Yes, all three are correct, however #3 is not used in common speech, but in poetry and apparently the bible!
    I think it may have been common in speech a couple centuries ago. I'm not sure, but I believe the Bible simply reflects correct usage at the time it was written. :)

    Gaer
     

    MissFit

    Senior Member
    My rule of thumb is the following: if the direct object is placed before the indirect object (recipient) there must be the preposition to, it's like an extended hand.
    Actually, if you put to in front of her, it is no longer an indirect object; it is a prepositional phrase. A rose was given her may not be the usual way to phrase this sort of thought, but it is grammatically correct. The fact that the majority of people might choose a different sentence structure doesn't mean it is wrong or "non-standard." I, for one, still use this type of sentence structure, especially when writing.
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    Yes, it is possible Panj.

    Tony, I referred to "Hiberno-English" not Irish. It must have been my imagination, then!
    I knew you meant English as-she-is-spoken-in-Ireland, but my point was that the non-standard constructions we here put on English are usually firmly rooted in the grammar of the Irish language. Spend a little time with a native speaker and you begin to understand the bad grammar of the Dubliner and the English which writers like O'Casey and Synge put into the mouths of their characters.
     

    modus.irrealis

    Senior Member
    English, Canada
    I just wanted to add that non-standard for me is not inherently negative, it's just not standard. It certainly doesn't mean substandard for me, since I wouldn't call anything substandard. From the responses, this seems parallel to things like "thee" or "I speak not" or double negatives.
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    I think it may have been common in speech a couple centuries ago. I'm not sure, but I believe the Bible simply reflects correct usage at the time it was written. :)

    Gaer
    It should be noted that the King James translation of the Bible - the Authorised Version of 1611 - was deliberately archaic.
    It is essentially a re-working of Tyndale's translation, first published in 1526.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    It should be noted that the King James translation of the Bible - the Authorised Version of 1611 - was deliberately archaic.
    It is essentially a re-working of Tyndale's translation, first published in 1526.
    Had the English language changed dramatically in those 85 years? It's a serious question, not a sarcastic one. If you look at the changes in American English between, say, 1870 and 1955 there were dramatic changes. I don't know about the evolution of English in the 16th and 17th centuries, so I thought I'd ask.
     

    ash93

    Senior Member
    England, United Kingdom - English but can speak Urdu, Memon and Hindi
    The answer to both questions is "no" for me, also. However, it must have been Standard English at one time, since this construction appears in the King James Version of the Bible:

    "..and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations."

    "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
    My first reaction was that #3 was wrong but your examples have reminded me that it is simply not commonly used. Also that there are sentences like this in the Quran as well (there is only one original copy) Thank you for that :).
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    Had the English language changed dramatically in those 85 years? It's a serious question, not a sarcastic one. If you look at the changes in American English between, say, 1870 and 1955 there were dramatic changes. I don't know about the evolution of English in the 16th and 17th centuries, so I thought I'd ask.
    William Shakespeare lived from 1564 to 1616. I'm sure you will immediately agree that tremendously dynamic changes occurred during his lifetime, so I think those 85 years would make a great deal of difference. Only a guess though!

    Gaer
     

    Lucretia

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Hello,
    The discussion has shown me how risky it is to be categorical, it’s safer to hedge your bets somehow J
    Okey-dokey,
    You say, I showed Nelly them is acceptable. But what exactly was shown – Nelly or they? The absence of the preposition leaves me at a loss.

    MissFit:
    Actually, if you put to in front of her, it is no longer an indirect object; it is a prepositional phrase”
    You are not the first to use the term – Sr. Moose, elroy, river adopt thesame grammar. This kind of syntactic parsing seems devoid of any logic to me, and if you don’t find it boring, let’s sort it out.

    Before an argument we have to speak about this term, a prepositional phrase.
    How can the role of this word (her) in this sentence be defined as a prepositional phrase? A prepositional phrase means a preposition + a noun or a pronoun, doesn’t it?
    Such a combination can have different roles – an attribute, an adverbial modifier and an indirect object (to which you object), for instance:
    1.I’d like to hear an in depth analysis of the situation. – an attribute
    2. She did it by mistake. – an adverbial modifier


    Similarly, if a lady at an office has a pen (a preposition is a sort of an instrument) in her hand, she might be a manager, an accountant, a secretary and even a janitor. The combination a pen + a lady, just as a preposition + a word cannot define their functions.

    Everybody agrees that in We showed Nelly the pictures Nelly is an indirect object (Dative).
    It’s the same Dative in We showed the pictures to Nelly. The meaning is the same, the recipient is the same.
    Why on Earth you consider its role different is quite beyond me.

    Even if in Quirk’s grammar it’s called a prepositional object it does not conflct with an indirect object – in my humble opinion. We could put it this way: The indirect Object can be either independent or prepositional.

    Actually, it was discussed recently in Indirect v.s. Direct Object, and two or three forer@s (alas, the minority) seem to share my vision.

    (Oh Lord, my post is so long!)
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    The understanding of what was shown in ...
    I showed Nelly them.
    ... or what was given to whom in ...
    A rose was given her.
    ... seems to come naturally. It is possible to suggest that the first shows Nelly to them, the second gives her to a rose, but come on people, that's not what anyone would understand :)
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    You say, I showed Nelly them is acceptable. But what exactly was shown – Nelly or they? The absence of the preposition leaves me at a loss.
    Syntax is important in English. The indirect object must come before the direct object, in this kind of sentence.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Lucretia, I am at a loss as to why you insist on beating a dead horse. According to me and thousands of others, "her" in "to her" is an object of a preposition (not a "prepositional phrase"; "to her" is the whole phrase). I have already explained to you that the meaning is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is that - in our view - anything following the preposition "to" is automatically an object of a preposition, completely regardless of whether it overlaps in meaning with a different construction.

    This is a common - if not the most common - approach to analyzing this sentence. I fear that your attempt to dissuade us from continuing to use it will be severely unsuccessful, because we are simply looking at the issue in two different ways, such that your "logic" does not apply to my analysis.

    Now, could we please put this "indirect object/object of a preposition" issue to rest and move on?
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    The subject of this thread is whether the sentence "a rose was given her" is correct/standard/acceptable/natural/awkward/unusual/archaic.

    To the extent that grammatical explanations help justify a preference, they are fine, but discussing grammatical terminology for its own sake is digressive, not to mention the fact that we've already had a thread about it.
     
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