In a video a native speaker of English said:

I gotta show you something... it is important. I need to show you it.

I am not a native speaker and this last sentence sounds extremely weird to me. I asked two English native speakers (both British), one of whom said it is okay and the other that it is wrong.

Is this grammatical? If not, is it about to become grammatical due to frequent use?


In American English, “I need to show it to you” is heard more commonly than is “I need to show you it”, which in AE has the same meaning. In British English, some may say “I need to show it you” to mean “I need to show it to you”, but I doubt you'd ever hear “I need to show you it”, even if it is you that is going to be shown to it.

An AE-corpus ngrams for show you it,show it you,show it to you vs. a BE-corpus ngrams for the same phrases illustrates, as Peter Shor said in comments, that show it you is rarely used in AE. Its use peaked in the early 1800's. The form is becoming rare in BE; its use peaked in the early 1900's. Pages 101 and 102 of a reference mentioned by tchrist (American and British English Preferences by Salama and Ghali), shown in part below, list several verbs after which some BE speakers elide to but most AE speakers do not.from pp 101-102 of Salama and Ghali

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    I think one key thing about your observation is the word it. Usage varies with what is being shown. For instance, AE speakers likely say "I need to show you something" as much as "I need to show something to you". – Zairja Oct 17 '12 at 17:39
  • A few rough COCA queries elucidate my point: [v*] to [v*] it to you 253 results, [v*] to [v*] you it 58 results, [v*] to [v*] you something 973 results, [v*] to [v*] something to you 48 results – Zairja Oct 17 '12 at 17:50
  • There's just something special about it – perhaps due to its "dummy object pronoun" status? – Zairja Oct 17 '12 at 19:23
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    As @Zairja touches upon, just as there are differences in the pragmatic acceptability of e.g. "I gave him a headache" vs "!I gave a headache (to) him", such differences may well extend to pronoun ordering in the case of both objects being pronouns. – Neil Coffey Oct 17 '12 at 20:05
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    Andrew - I'm from the north of England, and in my dialect it would be a completely normal, boring, everyday sentence. – Neil Coffey Oct 18 '12 at 2:45

It depends on the dialect.

In most dialects, the following is correct:

... show you the important thing.

But dialects differ when we replace the indirect object ("important thing") with "it". Some change the word order:

Show it you.

Others keep the word order the same:

Show you it.

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