Give me / give to me

ana_bgs

Member
Spain Spanish
I've always had a doubt with the verb "give".

Sometimes I see it used as a transitive verb, like "Give me my book".

But I could also see it with 'to' : "Give it to me" (like the Madonna's song :) )

What's the difference? Can you use it the way you prefer or is there any gramatical rule?

Thanks!
 
  • obz

    Senior Member
    Yankee English
    It's transative in both cases, and they are both correct.

    Give it to me.
    Give me it.

    Give me my book.
    Give my book to him
    (to me suena redundante, quizás como 'dame mi libro a mí').

    Give me the car.
    Give the car to me.

    La unica diferencia que noto yo, es 'give me it' suena un poco más imperativo que 'give it to me', aunque las dos son ordenes, 'to me' mantiene un poco más corteza que 'give me'... sobre todo el tono de voz decide la fuerza de la orden.
     

    obz

    Senior Member
    Yankee English
    Se usan, mal dichos, puede que sean... pero bien 'Give me that'

    'It' as a placeholder of a generic noun. Like 'Give me a break'.
     

    k-in-sc

    Senior Member
    U.S. English
    And if you say "one present" you mean "only one," "exactly one." Otherwise it's "a present," which is the usual way to say it.
     

    gengo

    Senior Member
    American English
    It's transitive in both cases, and they are both correct.

    Give it to me.
    Give me it.

    No, we don't say it that second way. Well, my young sons do, but I correct them.

    "It" is a rather special word in this respect. We can use any other noun or pronoun after the first pronoun, but not "it."

    Give me the key. :tick:
    Give me yours. :tick:
    Give me that. :tick:
    Give me it. :cross:
    Give it to me. :tick:
     

    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Syntactically speaking, there is nothing wrong with give me it, the "it" functioning as direct object, just as it does in I want it, where the meaning of "it" is understood in context. "It" as direct object does sound odd to some (many?) in such a ditransitive construction (that is, with an indirect object), which may be a good enough reason not to use it. Interesting, "give me it" appears here, and also here. "To me" as indirect object (he gave to me one present), however, is just wrong; indirect objects take the form of a noun phrase or a wh-clause. The prepositional phrase should come after the direct object (he gave one present to me), where, contrary to traditional grammar, it is a prepositional phrase complement of the direct object, and not an indirect object.
    Cheers
     

    gengo

    Senior Member
    American English
    Syntactically speaking, there is nothing wrong with give me it, the "it" functioning as direct object, just as it does in I want it, where the meaning of "it" is understood in context. "It" as direct object does sound odd to some (many?) in such a ditransitive construction (that is, with an indirect object), which may be a good enough reason not to use it.

    Educated speakers do not say "Give me it." I agree that syntactically it makes sense, which is why my own young sons and their friends say it that way. But I can assure you that it is not considered correct by most speakers.

    I want it. :tick:
    Give it. :tick: (a shortened form of "give it to me")
    Give it to me. :tick:
    Give me it. :cross:
     

    juan082937

    Banned
    español
    I've always had a doubt with the verb "give".
    Sometimes I see it used as a transitive verb, like "Give me my book".
    But I could also see it with 'to' : "Give it to me" (like the Madonna's song :) )
    What's the difference? Can you use it the way you prefer or is there any gramatical rule?
    Thanks!

    As a rule of THUMB you keepin mind the following :

    1- These verbs are DITRANSITIVES ( IO+DO) objects

    I gave Mary a present ( Mary=IO=Indirect object) a present (DO=direct object)
    The word ORDER :
    Subject+INDIRECT OBJECT)+Direct object
    I'm writing Joan a letter S+IO+DO
    If you change the order first DO (direct Object)+indirect object then you add TO before the indirect object
    I'm writing a letter to Joan (Subject+DO+TO+IO)

    When both objects are PRONOUNS usually the order is : S+DO+to+IO

    Give it to me (s+DO+IO) not Give me it.

    But you can put the INDIRECT OBJECT first :
    Give her one
    Send him some

    Usually the indirect object is a person/animal (Pet)
    The direct object are things.
     

    levmac

    Senior Member
    British English
    Educated speakers do not say "Give me it." I agree that syntactically it makes sense, which is why my own young sons and their friends say it that way. But I can assure you that it is not considered correct by most speakers.

    I want it. :tick:
    Give it. :tick: (a shortened form of "give it to me")
    Give it to me. :tick:
    Give me it. :cross:

    I am educated and I say it. I think we have to be careful when we talk about educated speakers. I would regard "give it" as perhaps more informal than give it, but I wouldn't correct you for saying it, nor call you uneducated.

    Growing up in the UK (where I got a degree, a teaching degree and a master despite being uneducated), I never heard anyone complain about this. Nor have I seen it in any EFL book in a decade of teaching. Only here. That doesn't mean Gengo is incorrect, but I think it's one of those linguistic things that certain people pick up on, and whether it is stylistically wrong, plain wrong, or a question of what your English teacher told you is probably a big influence on you. A little like whether you should say "may" or "can", "shall" or "will", or "between you and me" or "between you and I".

    For any Spanish speakers, I would say the following are the safest options:

    Give me + noun
    Give it to me

    However, if you asked anyone I know "Is it wrong to say 'give me it?'" I doubt you would find one single person saying yes.
     

    gengo

    Senior Member
    American English
    I am educated and I say it. I think we have to be careful when we talk about educated speakers. I would regard "give [me] it" as perhaps more informal than give it, but I wouldn't correct you for saying it, nor call you uneducated.

    (I corrected your post, but I'm not sure which instance should have been corrected.)

    I was being careful. In my 58 years, I have never, to my knowledge, heard an educated person say "give me it." I have heard children say it. I can't confidently speak to usage in the UK, but I have watched countless hours of British movies and television and don't recall ever hearing this construction. Whenever any of us talks about grammar, we are by necessity limited to our own experience, but that is most often a reliable guide to correct, or at least common, usage.

    I stand by my previous post.
     

    User With No Name

    Senior Member
    English
    I was being careful. In my 58 years, I have never, to my knowledge, heard an educated person say "give me it." I have heard children say it. I can't confidently speak to usage in the UK, but I have watched countless hours of British movies and television and don't recall ever hearing this construction. Whenever any of us talks about grammar, we are by necessity limited to our own experience, but that is most often a reliable guide to correct, or at least common, usage.
    I agree with gengo. At least in U.S. English, "give me it" (or, more likely, "gimme it") doesn't sound good. It sounds typical of a small child, who hasn't had time to internalize the finer points of grammar.
     

    FromPA

    Senior Member
    USA English
    As a rule of THUMB you keepin mind the following :

    1- These verbs are DITRANSITIVES ( IO+DO) objects

    I gave Mary a present ( Mary=IO=Indirect object) a present (DO=direct object)
    The word ORDER :
    Subject+INDIRECT OBJECT)+Direct object
    I'm writing Joan a letter S+IO+DO
    If you change the order first DO (direct Object)+indirect object then you add TO before the indirect object
    I'm writing a letter to Joan (Subject+DO+TO+IO)

    When both objects are PRONOUNS usually the order is : S+DO+to+IO

    Give it to me (s+DO+IO) not Give me it.

    But you can put the INDIRECT OBJECT first :
    Give her one
    Send him some

    Usually the indirect object is a person/animal (Pet)
    The direct object are things.
    Strictly speaking, the English sentence "Give it to me" doesn't have an indirect object. It has a direct object (it) and a prepositional phrase (to me) that performs the same function as an indirect object (it identifies the indirect receiver of the action). Almost all indirect objects can be replaced by a prepositional phrase (changing the word order as you note above), but many verbs require a prepositional phrase instead of an indirect object. For example, "I cancelled the reservation for her" cannot be expressed as "I cancelled her the reservation." It all depends on the verb.
     

    levmac

    Senior Member
    British English
    (I corrected your post, but I'm not sure which instance should have been corrected.)

    I was being careful. In my 58 years, I have never, to my knowledge, heard an educated person say "give me it." I have heard children say it. I can't confidently speak to usage in the UK, but I have watched countless hours of British movies and television and don't recall ever hearing this construction. Whenever any of us talks about grammar, we are by necessity limited to our own experience, but that is most often a reliable guide to correct, or at least common, usage.

    I stand by my previous post.

    Well, I would hope you would count me as one example now. My issue is, calling someone "uneducated" is basically meaningless. Someone could leave school at 14 with the difference between may and can drummed into them (possibly uneducated use of them, sorry), or have a Phd in astrophysics and write "should of"; there is no natural correlation between someone being "educated" and getting every last "finer point of grammar", whatever that means, absolutely right.

    I am, however, happy to acknowledge there might be UK/US difference here, not necessarily in what is correct, but to what extent people get their knickers in a twist over it. If I google "give me it" in Google News, I find lots of examples, including this article, in which "give me it" is the prescribed form suggested to school children, who are saying things I suspect your uneducated speaker would find uneducated.

    Saying no to 'gizit' is plain prejudice

    Here, meanwhile, you can find a journalist using it.

    5 of the latest face masks tested – from sheet masks to peel-off masks | Metro News

    As a genuine question, does this mean "give me that" is also wrong?
     

    gengo

    Senior Member
    American English
    Well, I would hope you would count me as one example now.

    Consider yourself counted.

    My issue is, calling someone "uneducated" is basically meaningless.

    I get your point, but on this forum, it is my impression that people use the term "educated," in both languages, to refer to those who care about language and make an effort to use it correctly, regardless of any higher degrees one may have. Although there certainly are many exceptions, as you mention, I do believe there is some correlation between formal education and proper language usage. Believe me, I am often frustrated by bad grammar used by people who should know better. And many people with college degrees sound uneducated when they say certain things. When I say that something makes you sound uneducated, it isn't an insult aimed at the speaker, just a comment on how the language usage is perceived.

    The examples you gave don't persuade me; they are just the status quo, which is that many native speakers don't use their own language properly.

    As a genuine question, does this mean "give me that" is also wrong?

    I would say that it's perfectly correct. As I said in post #15, this "rule" doesn't make a lot of sense (that is, it seems inconsistent not to be able to say "Give me it"), but it does seem to be in effect in English where I live.
     

    Magazine

    Senior Member
    Español-España.
    Very interesting discussion.

    I actually answered a question like this yesterday. I could not find a reasonable explanation for the usage of this form, only that it "sounded odd ".

    I found this on a grammar page.



    When the direct object is a pronoun rather than a noun, putting the indirect object in a prepositional phrase becomes a necessary modification. The preposition smoothes out the sentence so that it sounds natural. Check out these examples:

    Leslie didn't have any money for a sandwich, so Smitty purchased her it.


    Blech! That version sounds awful! But now try the sentence with the indirect object after a preposition:

    Leslie didn't have any money for a sandwich, so Smitty purchased it for her

    I am not convinced, as "it sounds bad" is not a good reason for me.
     

    Magazine

    Senior Member
    Español-España.
    I also found this very enlightening.

    I also found this interesting quote on Google Books, in a book titled "The Edinburgh history of the Scots language":

    [...] there is some indication as to what might have been happening to the serialisation of indirect and direct objects in the course of the Modern Scots period in Cheshire et al. (1993: 74). They point out that, in English, "give me it is a more recent construction than give it me, which in turn is a more recent construction than give it to me, where the prepositional group to mereflects the function of the Old English dative case". They report that Hughes and Trudgill (1987) give the order give me it as that most usually cited in descriptions of present-day standard English, but they also state that the reverse order is common among educated speakers in the north of England and is acceptable to many southern English speakers as well. This would suggest that [...] the order [...] give me it is gradually taking over from give it me and the even older give it to me. No dates are given here for the introduction of the newer word order in England, but it would appear that Beattie and his fellows objected to give me it because it was an innovation rather than, or as well as, because it was a Scotticism.
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    An extract from Magazine's post 27 quote: "This would suggest that [...] give me it is gradually taking over from give it me and the even older give it to me."

    "Give me it" has not made any inroads where I live. There are clearly regional differences within the UK.
     

    gengo

    Senior Member
    American English
    I must admit, sound, it does sound odd. But there you are...it seems to be grammatically correct.

    Not to beat a dead horse, but from what has been said in this thread, I would say that it is acceptable in some parts of the UK. It is not correct here in the US, or at least not in standard AmEn. Since I've been cautioned not to say "uneducated," let me say that if you say "give me it" here, you will sound different.
     

    S.V.

    Senior Member
    Español, México
    One of the results on Youtube for gimme it is from Parks and Recreation. The man is acting like a child, I believe, so it sounds natural.
     
    Last edited:

    Amapolas

    Senior Member
    Castellano rioplatense
    Not to beat a dead horse, but from what has been said in this thread, I would say that it is acceptable in some parts of the UK. It is not correct here in the US, or at least not in standard AmEn. Since I've been cautioned not to say "uneducated," let me say that if you say "give me it" here, you will sound different.
    Que recuerde concientemente, solo he visto este uso en un libro de ESL. Ni me pregunten qué libro era, porque de esto hace casi cuarenta años. Pero lo recuerdo porque en aquel momento me pareció extraño, ya que nunca me lo habían enseñado así. Evidentemente este uso existe. El libro era de origen británico; quizás sea más habitual de aquel lado del océano.
     

    Ms.Gomez

    New Member
    Spanish
    Howdy,

    I'm certainly tired thus I don't feel skilfull today:

    Which one would be the right option: He gave (to) his employees some advice.

    With or without TO?

    TIA.
     

    gengo

    Senior Member
    American English
    No educated speaker would use a prepositional phrase prior to the direct object.
    I agree, but I think my statement is still valid. Grammatically, there is nothing wrong with the other sentence, as far as I can see. It's just that we would not say it that way.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    No educated speaker would use a prepositional phrase prior to the direct object. 🤗
    It is a matter of balance, not grammar. When the direct object is longer and more complicated than the prepositional phrase, it sounds better to put the prepositional phrase first:

    He gave to his employees some important advice concerning their pensions.:tick:

    Balance is also one the reason give me it sounds awkward if that final it is unstressed. The same goes for any personal pronoun (me, you, him, her, it, us, them):

    Send me them. (awkward)

    Another reason is confusion about which pronoun is the direct object.

    Similar reasons apply to why personal pronouns in Spanish go where they do.
     

    FromPA

    Senior Member
    USA English
    It is a matter of balance, not grammar. When the direct object is longer and more complicated than the prepositional phrase, it sounds better to put the prepositional phrase first:

    He gave to his employees some important advice concerning their pensions.:tick:

    Balance is also one the reason give me it sounds awkward if that final it is unstressed. The same goes for any personal pronoun (me, you, him, her, it, us, them):

    Send me them. (awkward)

    Another reason is confusion about which pronoun is the direct object.

    Similar reasons apply to why personal pronouns in Spanish go where they do.
    “He gave to his employees (IO) some advice (DO) concerning their pensions”

    If you strike the preposition, you are left with an indirect object and a perfectly natural sounding sentence that is not at all confusing to a native speaker. When you have a DO and IO together, the standard syntax is that the IO always goes before the DO. If you choose to substitute a prepositional phrase for the IO (or if the verb/object relationship doesn’t allow an IO), the natural-sounding position for the prepositional phrase is after the DO. The native English speaker knows instinctively by the position which is the DO and which is the IO. There’s no confusion at all, just as a native Spanish speaker is not confused by the pairing of IO and DO pronouns.

    in English, there seems to be a preference to substitute a prepositional phrase for the IO to avoid having two pronouns together. This is not because the two pronouns might be confusing (the IO always comes before the DO), but rather because it often just doesn’t sound right. If I want someone to send me some files, I could say it two different ways with exactly the same meaning:
    Send me (IO) the files (DO)​
    Send the files (DO) to me (prep. phrase)​
    If I substitute the pronoun “them” for the DO “files”, then the sentences would be
    Send me (IO) them (DO) :cross:
    Send them (DO) to me (prep. phrase):tick:

    The first sentence would be perfectly understood (no confusion between IO an DO), but it just sounds unnatural (to me). I wouldn’t say that I would never say it that way, but it certainly wouldn’t be my first choice.
     
    Last edited:

    Forero

    Senior Member
    “He gave to his employees (IO) some advice (DO) concerning their pensions”
    Of course "gave" does not require a preposition, since it allows an indirect object. But it also allows a "to" prepositional phrase instead, and the position of that prepositional phrase is more flexible than that of an indirect object. Indeed that position follows the same rules as with any transitive verb that does not allow an indirect object.

    I am an educated speaker, and I have no problem with using this kind of prepositional phrase before a long direct object. I can even put the prepositional phrase before the subject:

    To his employees he gave some important ....

    The direct object in my sentence is "some important advice concerning their pensions". For me that is long enough to prompt me not to delay "to his employees". Try it with something more complicated:

    He gave to his employees some important advice concerning their pensions as well as tips on improving their productivity.
    He gave some important advice concerning their pensions as well as tips on improving their productivity to his employees.
    ?
     

    FromPA

    Senior Member
    USA English
    He gave to his employees some important advice concerning their pensions as well as tips on improving their productivity.
    He gave some important advice concerning their pensions as well as tips on improving their productivity to his employees.
    ?
    “He gave his employees some important advice…” still seems the most natural option to me, precisely because putting the prepositional phrase at the end of the long sentence confuses matters. There’s simply no reason at all to use a prepositional phrase where you’re putting it.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    “He gave his employees some important advice…” still seems the most natural option to me, precisely because putting the prepositional phrase at the end of the long sentence confuses matters. There’s simply no reason at all to use a prepositional phrase where you’re putting it.
    You don't have to use "gave to" if you don't like it, but I find it perfectly natural when the direct object needs to be delayed.

    Besides, if "gave to" and "give to" were useless, there would be no well-known examples such as:

    On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me twelve drummers drumming, eleven pipers piping, ..., two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

    I give to you what you give to me.
     

    FromPA

    Senior Member
    USA English
    You don't have to use "gave to" if you don't like it, but I find it perfectly natural when the direct object needs to be delayed.

    Besides, if "gave to" and "give to" were useless, there would be no well-known examples such as:

    On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me twelve drummers drumming, eleven pipers piping, ..., two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

    I give to you what you give to me.
    In what way is the direct object being delayed? You’re not changing the DO at all, but rather changing the indirect object into a prepositional phrase for no apparent reason. Most people do not speak in poetic verse, so quoting the Twelve Days of Christmas is not a valid representation of normal speech.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    In what way is the direct object being delayed? You’re not changing the DO at all, but rather changing the indirect object into a prepositional phrase for no apparent reason. Most people do not speak in poetic verse, so quoting the Twelve Days of Christmas is not a valid representation of normal speech.
    It is a valid representation of my normal speech. The issue is not just poetry vs. prose, but style. Of course you can say "I give you what you give me", but I think "I give to you what you give to me" sounds better.

    And some verbs just don't allow an indirect object:

    I hereby transfer to the above-named person the 1970 Ford Pinto, vehicle identification number ..., in exchange for cash in the amount of $....

    In this sentence too, the prepositional phrase sounds better where it is.
     

    Bramimonde

    Member
    Español
    No, we don't say it that second way. Well, my young sons do, but I correct them.

    "It" is a rather special word in this respect. We can use any other noun or pronoun after the first pronoun, but not "it."

    Give me the key. :tick:
    Give me yours. :tick:
    Give me that. :tick:
    Give me it. :cross:
    Give it to me. :tick:
    Can you say ”give me that”?
     

    Emily Jiménez Álvarez

    New Member
    Spanish
    I've always had a doubt with the verb "give".

    Sometimes I see it used as a transitive verb, like "Give me my book".

    But I could also see it with 'to' : "Give it to me" (like the Madonna's song :) )

    What's the difference? Can you use it the way you prefer or is there any gramatical rule?

    Thanks!
    Both cases are correct, but you can use "Give me that"
     
    Top