I have been studying Longman's English grammar book, and something is really confusing me:

  • We can put it and them after the verb: Give it to me. Buy them for me. Do it for me.

  • With e.g. give and buy, we can say: Give me it. Buy me them. (But not *Do me it.)

  • We say: Give it to John. Buy them for John. (Not *Give John it - *Buy John them.)

Why can't I say Buy John it or Give John them?

There is another post related to it that talks about the same topic: Direct and Indirect Objects with the verbs: Give, Buy, and Bring. However, the most voted answer was, indeed, useful for me, but didn't get everything clear.

What's the main rule for inverting the position and dropping the preposition?

As far as I managed to understand, if the direct object is it or them and the indirect object is a pronoun, the normal construction's placement is necessary, i.e.: Subject + Verb + Direct object + To/For + Indirect object

Is this right?

  • 2
    The answer is right there in the question you link to : "It is normal to use this prepositional structure when the direct object is a pronoun." Meaning, only n"normal" for a pronoun.When an ordinary noun is the direct object, you use an indirect object instead. Give John that apple. – Spencer Feb 5 '17 at 2:29
  • In Shoe’s answer it says: This is because pronouns usually refer to things that have already been mentioned, that is, to information that is known to your reader or hearer. In English, new information usually comes at the end of the clause. So when the indirect object is new information and the direct object is not, the indirect iobject is put at the end of the clause. – Jim Feb 5 '17 at 2:33
  • Actually, I'm still confused. Does it follow this rule: When the direct object is a pronoun (them, him, it..) and the indirect object is a noun (John..) the normal placement is required: Subject + Verb + Direct object + To + Indirect Object . Right? – Haseo Feb 5 '17 at 14:56

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