give to "B" "A"

zhshy

Senior Member
Mandarin
Dear all,

"Give 'A' to 'B'" is a structure I'm familiar with, but I've just read a sentence which appears to me to use the structure "give to 'B' 'A'". Here is the sentence:

If pushed to its extreme, it would give to a stone or a plum pudding, a greater reality and to thought, love, courage, genius, greatness, the human soul and mind facing an obscure and dangerous world and getting mastery over it an inferior dependent reality.

This structure is strange to me, and I was wondering whether it's grammatical.

Thanks in advance.
 
  • DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    I must say I find it rather confusing to try and work out the meaning of that. :(

    Where is the sentence from, please?
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    The example sentence is rather confusing, but the structure is possible. A 'heavy' (long or complicated) direct object can be moved to the right, so that a shorter phrase can come first. I'll use a simpler sentence based on yours:

    (1) It would give a greater reality than anyone could imagine to a stone.
    (2) It would give to a stone a greater reality than anyone could imagine.

    Especially if the long direct object contains a relative clause, the standard position (1) could be confusing: what does 'imagine to a stone' mean? So the variation (2) allows us to get the simpler phrase out of the way first.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    If pushed to its extreme, it would give to a stone or a plum pudding, a greater reality
    and [would give]
    to thought, love, courage, genius, greatness, the human soul and mind facing an obscure and dangerous world
    and getting mastery over it
    an inferior dependent reality.

    (where blue = direct object and red = indirect object)
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    It is horrible.

    However, the construction "give to B A" is acceptable, but it is usually "give B A" ("Give John the apple", for example). In your example, "give" does have a different meaning though, something like "assign", which does make the "give to" form more natural.
     
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