I am writing a computer application which can understand English sentence. For that purpose, I was preparing frames of each word. For example:

send something to recipient|place

Since to can be defined as separate frame;

to recipient|place

So the frame for send can be defined as

send something

Now I found a phrase;

"Send him my love"


Is there any grammar rule which transforms Send my love to him into Send him my love, or it is word-specific?

send recipient something

send something to recipient

  • 3
    I think that English generally permits the alternative positioning "Send flowers to Algernon" and "Send Algernon flowers." It's just part of the flexibility of the language.
    – Sven Yargs
    Apr 19, 2015 at 7:51
  • 2
    It's worth noting that only a recipient can be an indirect (dative) object; a place is a destination and so cannot be treated in the same way: i.e. we can say either I sent a gift to him or I sent him a gift, but we can only say I sent a gift to his house, not *I sent his house a gift. This has its roots in some Indo-European idea that recipients belong in the dative case and destinations in the accusative; even though English has outgrown its case markings, it hasn't outgrown much of the grammar that accompanied them.
    – Anonym
    Apr 19, 2015 at 7:55
  • @Anonym, you gave me a good point. +1 Apr 19, 2015 at 9:30
  • Examples and non-examples: bring it to me = bring me it, lend it to me = lend me it, pass it to me = pass me it, give it to me = give me it, sing a song to me = sing me a song, told it to me = told me it. But also do me a favour = do a favour for me not do a favour to me, save me a piece = save a piece for me not save a piece to me .
    – Neil W
    Apr 19, 2015 at 11:43
  • 1
    See this answer on dative transformation and its comments. Yes, there is a general rule. However, there are a few dative constructions that cannot be unravelled into prepositional phrases in this way, which is what that other question is asking
    – tchrist
    Apr 19, 2015 at 12:06

1 Answer 1


I got to know about dative case after receiving some really helpful comments. And I found a very helpful document about dative shifting.

Explanation which exactly meets with my question;

3a John sent the parcel to Mary

3b John sent Mary the parcel

4a John sent the parcel to the States

4b * John sent the States the parcel

In both 3 and 4 the direct object, [the parcel], travels towards the indirect object, [Mary] or [the States], making it the Goal of the action. The semantic difference is that in 3 [Mary] is the Beneficiary of the action, the person for whom the parcel is intended, but in 4 [the States] has no such role. For this shift to occur it seems that we must have the right type of verb and the right type of indirect object.


[sender] send (smth) (to [recipient])
[sender] send ([recipient] smth)    ;where recipient is a beneficiary.

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