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ditransitive verbs, implied prepositions

asked 2015-03-19 13:28:33 -0500

anonymous user

Anonymous

A friend and I disagree about the second sentence in this passage:

''After Richard opened the window, the bird flew out. It was like a child whom he was now granting freedom.''

My friend holds that the sentence should be ''It was like a child to whom he was now granting freedom.'' I think the preposition is implied and isn't required.

Thank you!

Brian

(Transferred from old LINGUIST List Ask-a-Linguist site)

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answered 2015-03-24 00:35:02 -0500

Norvin Richards gravatar image

updated 2015-03-24 15:37:18 -0500

'Grant' is one of a number of verbs that can appear in two kinds of structures:

The king granted freedom to the slaves.

The king granted the slaves their freedom.

In the first sentence, the slaves are the object of a preposition 'to', while in the second, both 'the slaves' and 'freedom' are just noun phrases, without accompanying prepositions. English has a lot of verbs like this:

I threw the ball to the receiver.

I threw the receiver the ball.

She gave the child a book.

She gave a book to the child.

…and so on. You could google 'double object construction' if you'd like to learn more.

So far, you sound like you ought to be right; there's a structure with a preposition, but another one without one, so the preposition shouldn't be required.

For many English speakers, though, when you have two objects, with no prepositions, the first object can't be questioned or relativized, as you're doing in your example. So a lot of speakers (including me) don't like examples like:

the child he granted freedom

the receiver I threw the ball

the child she gave the book

I think this is supposed to be a point of variation among English speakers, though. So I guess one question is how you and your friend feel about these kinds of examples in general. If you consistently disagree about them, it's not that one of you is right and the other is wrong; you just don't have identical grammars, which is very common, especially in a language as large as English.

--Norvin Richards

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Asked: 2015-03-19 13:28:33 -0500

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Last updated: Mar 24 '15