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Tell to or tell. Ever wondered why we say ‘explain to me what happened’ and NOT ‘explain me what happened’? The reason is that certain verbs of communication whose object is indirect always take the preposition ‘to’ or ‘for’ before the indirect object, regardless of the indirect object’s position in the sentence. Let’s look at some examples of verbs that always take, no matter what, ‘to’ or ‘for’ before their indirect object.

Always TO / FOR + INDIRECT

Verbs whose indirect object is always introduced by the preposition TO or FOR, regardless of the indirect’s position within the sentence. Generally these are verbs of communication.

Explain: Explain to me how it’s done. Explain how it’s done to me.

Listen: Listen to me in Russian. Listen in Russian to me.

Speak: Speak to me in Spanish. Speak in Spanish to me.

Talk: Talk to me about your problems. Talk about your problems to me.

Describe: Describe to me your situation. Describe your situation to me.

Suggest: Can you suggest to me a good teacher? Can you suggest a good teacher to me?

Report: He reported to me. He reported the news to me.

Elaborate: He elaborated to me on the news. He elaborated on the news to me.

Say: He said to me what was on his mind. He said what was on his mind to me.

Communicate: I need you to communicate to me the issue. I need the issue to be communicated to me.

VERB + DIRECT + TO / FOR + INDIRECT

Verbs whose indirect object is introduced by TO or FOR only when the direct object is written between the verb and the indirect object. Basically all other verbs that are not verbs of communication (except for ‘tell’) don’t need to use ‘to’ or ‘for’ when the indirect object is written between the verb and the indirect object.

Some examples as follows:

Show: Show me your hands. Show them to me.

Give: Give me your phone. Give your phone to me.

Bring: Bring me your phone. Bring your phone to me.

Give: I gave Gemma the shivers. I gave the shivers to Gemma.

Offer: I’ll offer you a slice. I’ll offer a slice to you.

Lend: I’ll lend you a hand. I’ll lend a hand to you.

Sing: sing me a song. Sing a song to me.

Order: order me a beer. Order a beer for me.

Teach: Teach me English. Teach English to me.

Make: Make me a deal. Make a deal to me.

Fine: Fine me the fine. Fine the fine to me.

Serve: Serve me the fish please. Serve the fish to me please.

Save: Save me a seat please. Save a seat for me please.

promise: Promise me you won’t go. Promise you won’t go for me.

Build: Build me a bridge. Build a bridge for me.

 

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