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This question already has an answer here:

In conversation, I hear people say:

"Please recommend me a book."

Or:

"Recommend me a book, please."

They omit "to," as in:

"Please recommend to me a book."

Or variations thereof, such as:

"Please recommend a book to me."

And:

"Recommend to me a book, please."

Are all of the example sentences above grammatically correct?

Edit: No, the referenced question did not answer mine, because it it asks how to is interchangeable with that, which is a somewhat different question. My question is specifically about the usage of to.

marked as duplicate by Edwin Ashworth, Mari-Lou A, tchrist, Centaurus, Mitch Nov 9 '15 at 14:15

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • The duplicate cites (Barrie England's answer) an example in OED: '‘Can you recommend me a nice hotel?’ I was asked.' I still wouldn't use it myself. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 7 '15 at 14:18
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The structure of the phrase, "Recommend me a book," parallels that of "Give me a book." Let's look at that first.

A verb such as 'to give' can take an indirect and a direct object. It is a ditransitive verb (see note below).

1.

If the direct object precedes the indirect object, we must include 'to'.

Give the book to John.

However, if the indirect object precedes the direct object, you should omit 'to', e.g.

Give John the book.

2. If you want to add 'please' you can add it to the beginning or to the end of either of the above sentences. The choice is yours.

3. Other verbs act similarly to 'give', e.g.

Hand me the book. Hand the book to me.

Pass me the book. Pass the book to me.

Throw me the book. Throw the book to me.

4. Note that verbs such as this are described as ditransitive. They can take two objects. Another example is 'show'.

Show me the book. Show the book to me.

5. It is a matter of style, usage and opinion whether 'recommend' is one of those verbs. Peter Shor (in the comments) thinks it is. I think it is in the context of this question. Some people (such as Joe Dark in the comments) clearly think otherwise.

Usage, preference and context will ultimately decide.


Ditransitivity

In grammar, a ditransitive verb is a verb which takes a subject and two objects which refer to a theme and a recipient. According to certain linguistics considerations, these objects may be called direct and indirect, or primary and secondary.

Wikipedia

  • Food for thought...what about "Give the book a name."? – michael_timofeev Nov 7 '15 at 13:18
  • @michael_timofeev - Yes that works in the same way. "Give the book a name" and "Give a name to the book". – chasly from UK Nov 7 '15 at 13:20
  • I agree with your last note. There are verbs which conveys an "abstract" thought/idea like suggest/recommend/propose, etc. and those which focus more on physical action like give/send/pass, etc. I think it might be more related with origin of the words. – user140086 Nov 7 '15 at 13:27
  • Depending on the exact definition of 'parallel', the statement in your first sentence could be begging the question. << The strings "Advise / Pick / Indicate / Critique me a book," parallel "Give me a book.">> syntactically.>> – Edwin Ashworth Nov 7 '15 at 14:45
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    @EdwinAshworth - I've adjusted the wording slightly. – chasly from UK Nov 7 '15 at 14:48
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I slightly disagree with the above answer as when the verb recommend is used as a transitive verb, its object should be something that is recommended/suggested/advised (to use/read/watch, etc).

  1. I recommended him to the CEO.

It is obvious that the above sentence means I asked the CEO to consider hiring him.

Let's say the CEO is a female and if you use:

  1. I recommended him her/I recommemded her him.

Which one would you use for the No.1 sentence? It is very difficult to tell who was recommended and to whom who was recommended. Of course, the second one should be used (based on the context) as IO (indirect object/her) should be placed before DO (direct object/him).

If you compare No. 2 sentence with the follwoing:

  1. I recommnded him to her.

It is far less confusing than No. 2.

There is no single usage mentioned in Oxfod Online Dictionary that shows "recommend + IO + DO" construction".

I have "googled" some phrases and there seems to be no big difference in monotransitive usages (taking only DO) and ditransitive usages (taking IO and DO).

"Recommended a book to me": 45,300 hits.
"Recommended me a book": 42,000 hits.

"Recommended a book to him": 99,700 hits. "Recommended him a book": 97,200 hits. "Recommended a book to her": 81,600 hits. "Recommended her a book": 32,100 hits.

However, if you change the DO to "the movie" and IO to "him/her", seemingly strange hit numbers turn up.

"Recommended the movie to me": 49,600 hits. "Recommended me the movie": 64,500 hits.

"Recommended the movie to him": 34,800 hits. "Recommended him the movie": only 3 hits.

"Recommended the movie to her": 37,200 hits. "Recommended her the movie": 0 hits. Also, 0 hits for "Recommended them the movie" and only 8 hits for "recommended us the movie" while 30,500 hits for "recommended the movie to us".

The same phenomenon is taking place with the verb "suggest" whose usage is considered similar to "recommend".

"Suggested an idea to me": 45,300 hits.
"Suggested me an idea": 17,800 hits.

"Suggested an idea to him: 34,100 hits. "Suggested him an idea": 3,270 hits

"Suggested an idea to her: 32,700 hits. "Suggested her an idea": 7,010 hits

Conclusion:

You could use either "Recommend a book to me" or "Recommend me a book" as "Recommend me something" seems to have become rather popular as shown in the Google search.

However, if you change the IO to "him/her/us/them", it is a different story.

It is rather idiomatic to use "recommend" as a "ditransitive" verb when using "me" as an IO (even "him" for a book). However, we had better use the verb "recommend" as a "monotransitive" verb that takes only DO when using other IO's than "me" (or him for a book).

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    You make some good points. I would say that some verbs are clearly ditransitive, some are clearly monotransitive and there is a third group where it is not so clear. What works and what doesn't may depend both on personal opinion and on context. – chasly from UK Nov 7 '15 at 14:39
  • 'There is no single usage mentioned in [Oxford] Online Dictionary that shows "recommend + IO + DO" construction': In the duplicate, Barrie England's answer quotes an example in OED: " 'Can you recommend me a nice hotel?’ I was asked." chasly is correct in saying that there is no consensus here, and that 'Can you recommend me a nice hotel?’ may be far more generally acceptable than 'I recommended her him'. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 7 '15 at 15:04
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    Right or wrong, +1 for seeing it the way I do. (“Please recommend me to a good bookie” would be another example, imo, where I wouldn’t be requesting the name of a good bookie, but rather that a good word on my behalf be said to one). In fact, I don’t see why “to me” (& certainly not just “me”) need/s to be mentioned at all in the OP’s examples: “[John, could you] please recommend a book./?” If it’s unclear to John exactly who wants the recommendation, he’ll seek clarification by either asking “To whom” or “Who,” depending entirely, of course, on which side of this issue he falls. – Papa Poule Nov 7 '15 at 15:06
  • @EdwinAshworth I was editing my answer when you left the comment. I agree that "Can you recommend me a nice hotel" is more idiomatic than the other way around. However, "Can you recommend a nice hotel? without me is also quite popular. I think the usage might have started there. – user140086 Nov 7 '15 at 15:46
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    @Edwin: both give it me and give me it sound a little odd in the US. – Peter Shor Nov 7 '15 at 17:33

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