Why Can't We Say "Explain Me This?"

Hello everybody,

Why do English speakers say "Ask me this," but not "Ask this to me"?

And why do they say "Explain this to me," but not "Explain me this"?

Thank you.

Comments for Why Can't We Say "Explain Me This?"

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Mar 23, 2013
by: Chelsey

When using an indirect object, different verbs require different prepositions or no preposition at all.

Most commonly:

1. one-syllable verbs take only the indirect object, without a preposition

• ask me
• bring me
• take me
• write me
• teach me
• tell me
• pass me
• hand me

2. verbs with two or more syllables use preposition + indirect object

• explain (something) to me
• present (something) to me
• reveal (something) to me
• describe (something) to me
• illustrate (something) for me
• clarify (something) for me

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule.

• offer me (not "offer to me")
• say to me (not "say me")

And some verbs follow different rules in different contexts.

• recommend me (for the job)
• recommend (a job) to me
• send (a letter) to me
• send me (a letter)

However, it is not grammatically wrong to say, "Ask this to me" or "pass this to me."

For example:
A. Ask the questions to me.
B. Ask me the questions.

A. Pass the book to me.
B. Pass me the book.

All of these sentences are grammatically correct. But, in American English, it sounds more natural to say it the second way.

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