Is it correct to say:

The prudent guidance and innovation gained Jane and John much fame.

I think that this sentence is grammatically incorrect because the verb gain cannot take two complements the way ditransitive verbs can.

Despite my misgivings, this sentence was not pointed out to be erroneous. Isn’t this sentence incorrect?


3 Answers 3


I don’t know why you would think there is anything wrong with it; it is perfectly fine. It’s just like saying:

Professor Benelux’s discoveries earned him a place in the history books.

Quite a few verbs can have an indirect object like this; it is not a closed set. You cannot list them all, because this construction is used by native speakers all the time on any number of verbs.

  • @2016pass Then you may be looking at this wrong, because one can apply datives of interest to many and perhaps most transitive verbs to indicate the person benefiting from the action. Sing me a song, build me a house, call me a taxi, play me a new one, write me a letter.
    – tchrist
    Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 12:39
  • Here is an in-depth explanation. The term is Dative Alternation, and the executive summary is: X can gain Y Z, because Y will wind up owning Z by virtue of X's gaining it. If that were not the case, it would indeed be ungrammatical.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 12:45
  • wow guys i really appreciate your explanation. I understand it clearly! Since I've usually learned grammar not by natural communication but by memorizing rules, i did not know gain can be used like that. I learned a lot from you
    – 2016pass
    Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 13:11
  • It's rather more complex (as usual). I'm trying to find a restriction on DOs with two-object verbs. 'Take' can be ditransitive but not I'd say not benefactive ('Take him a drink, would you?' but 'Take a mac for me, would you?') Commented Aug 13, 2021 at 19:26

One definition of gain mentions that it can take two objects:

Obtain or secure (something wanted or desirable)
[with two objects] ‘their blend of acoustic pop gained them several chart hits’
Oxford Dictionaries

Therefore, your sentence is grammatical.


I think it is incorrect. GAIN is closer to OBTAIN than EARN, and you cannot say, "This obtained us a 20% market share."

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