It’s common to say someone acquires something, but is it OK to say “acquires someone something?

For example, it is possible to say

His character acquires him a good name.
                    (where good name here means fame)

to mean that he acquires a good name because of his (good) character.

  • 1
    I've got 1th to say about this: Whether they're standard abbr or no, I've always cringed when I've read sb/sth here.
    – J.R.
    Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 3:17
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    When you talk about verbs a lot, which linguists have to do, you find yourself writing things like make sth or make sb do sth in place of make something and make somebody do something as descriptions of verbal constructions. This is not rocket science, and doesn't require calculus - just the desire to learn sth. Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 3:23

1 Answer 1


I don't find OP's proposed usage particularly "valid" - it just looks like a bad translation to me.

A little stuffy and dated, but I'd go for "His character affords him a good name".

afford - to supply or furnish from its own resources, to yield naturally. (OED, sense:7)

OP mentions sb acquire sth, by which I take it he means sentences such as "John acquired a gun".

acquire - to get by one's own efforts. (thefreedictionary, sense:2)

In this context, it's worth noting that we can (just about) say "The gun afforded John confidence", but not *"The gun acquired John confidence" - only "John acquired confidence through the gun".

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