In actions that involve another person, we can structure sentences like the following examples:

I drove him home.

I cooked him a meal.

I gave him a spoon.

I threw him the ball.

I'm not sure of the name of this grammar pattern, but the use of the pronoun "him" is simply a shortening of "for him" or "to him" or "at him", depending.

Is there a reason why we can't (or at least, don't) say:

I opened/closed him the door.

to mean "I opened/closed the door for him"? Is there a grammar rule, or is it just not idiomatic?

  • @Lawrence Nifty, thanks. Is there some way to search for these without knowing the specific text of the title? I tried to search various key phrases but none of the suggested answers came even close.
    – Andrew
    Feb 9, 2017 at 1:34
  • Sorry for the delay in replying - I only saw your comment when coming here via a link someone posted at ELL. Remembering a similar question from prior browsing helps with the search. :P
    – Lawrence
    Mar 21, 2017 at 14:45
  • Unfortunately, searching is more art than science - maybe even more lottery than art. However, there are some things you can try, such as typing is:question in the search box at the top-right corner of the page to search only in the question text, not answers (cuts down on duplicates in the search results), and typing tags in square brackets (e.g. [grammar]).
    – Lawrence
    Mar 21, 2017 at 14:45


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