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Does it matter where to put the highlighted phrases? Options
denniszzzzz
Posted: Sunday, August 24, 2014 3:09:37 PM
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(1a) They write two letters to me every week.

(1b) They write to me two letters every week.


(2a) They talk about how smart they are to me.

(2b) They talk to me about how smart they are.


I have heard from a few people that the second sentences sound awkward.

Could someone please explain that? Thanks.
tunaafi
Posted: Sunday, August 24, 2014 3:12:28 PM

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Location: Karlín, Praha, Czech Republic
(1b) is not very natural. The others are OK. I prefer (2b) to (2a).
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Monday, August 25, 2014 4:01:11 PM

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Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom

I don't know how 'correct' it is, but the most usual sentence for #1 is:
They write me two letters every week.

I agree - 2a sounds a little 'odd', but there is nothing ungrammatical about it that I can see.
thar
Posted: Monday, August 25, 2014 5:26:49 PM

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I think a basic rule that would apply would be:

1 a direct object precedes a preposition + indirect object .

They write two letters.
They write two letters to me.

They give the letters to the postman.

If the indirect object has no preposition , you put it first.
They write me two letters.

They give the postman the letters.

That rule should really be rephrased, to make more sense:
If you put the indirect object before the direct object, it does not take a preposition.
If you put the indirect object after the direct object, it needs a preposition.


2
a simple indirect object precedes a more complex [adverbial?] phrase
They talk to me.
They talk to me about how smart they are.

They talk to the postman about the letters.
They talk about the letters, with the postman.





malgaff
Posted: Monday, August 25, 2014 5:41:48 PM
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The standard forms are 1a and 2b.

The sense seems stilted in 1b, though grammatically the sentence is correct. In 2b, the adverbial clause
“…how smart they are to me” considers “me” as being the only person (perhaps) that they are “smart” to.
Kilda
Posted: Monday, August 25, 2014 5:42:47 PM

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Location: Trondheim, Sor-Trondelag, Norway
They are all correct, but...

1b - This is more used in formal situations, or in books
2a - I don't know if this even conveys your meaning, but I do know this sentence is VERY confusing and bizzare since the object is placed at the end, "They talk to me about how smart they are" is more natural
malgaff
Posted: Monday, August 25, 2014 6:07:53 PM
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Joined: 11/23/2011
Posts: 34
Neurons: 4,986
[quote=thar]I think a basic rule that would apply would be:

1 a direct object precedes a preposition + indirect object .

They write two letters.
They write two letters to me.

They give the letters to the postman.

If the indirect object has no preposition , you put it first.
They write me two letters.

They give the postman the letters.

That rule should really be rephrased, to make more sense:
If you put the indirect object before the direct object, it does not take a preposition.
If you put the indirect object after the direct object, it needs a preposition.


2
a simple indirect object precedes a more complex [adverbial?] phrase
They talk to me.
They talk to me about how smart they are.

They talk to the postman about the letters.
They talk about the letters, with the postman.





"They talk about the letters, with the postman." Not a good choice. Stitching a comma on before the prepositional phrase shows stylistic awkwardness.
thar
Posted: Monday, August 25, 2014 6:18:55 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/8/2010
Posts: 22,788
Neurons: 92,574
malgaff wrote:
[quote=thar]I think a basic rule that would apply would be:

1 a direct object precedes a preposition + indirect object .

They write two letters.
They write two letters to me.

They give the letters to the postman.

If the indirect object has no preposition , you put it first.
They write me two letters.

They give the postman the letters.

That rule should really be rephrased, to make more sense:
If you put the indirect object before the direct object, it does not take a preposition.
If you put the indirect object after the direct object, it needs a preposition.


2
a simple indirect object precedes a more complex [adverbial?] phrase
They talk to me.
They talk to me about how smart they are.

They talk to the postman about the letters.
They talk about the letters, with the postman.





"They talk about the letters, with the postman." Not a good choice. Stitching a comma on before the prepositional phrase shows stylistic awkwardness.


True, I agree, the first form is preferable. I just put it in to show that anything after the direct object is another phrase.
You would not say:
They talked about the letters to the postman.
They talk about how smart they are to me.
That just sounds wrong to me, not just awkward.
I think the reason is that you cannot tag that on at the end.
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