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Hi Everyone,

Here are two sentences:

1. Who bought you those flowers?

2. Who did you buy those flowers for?

I need to check my explanation of the second sentence. A student wanted to know why we put 'for' at the end of the second sentence. Is it because 'you' are the one taking action? The first sentence relates to someone else taking the action of buying flowers.

I think my explanation needs more, but I'm not sure what.

Thanks,

CC Emotion: smile

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In w-questions and also in relative clauses, the pronoun can be the object of a preposition, as in your sentence #2. There are two ways to say or write these sentences - with the prepositional phrase at the start, or the pronoun at the start, and the preposition at the end.

Grammarians of the older generation claimed that the second form was substandard English, but that is not true. Both are perfectly acceptable. In this pair, the first is normal conversation and the second is extremely formal and stilted.

2a. Who did you buy those flowers for?
2b. For whom did you buy those flowers?


Here are other examples:

Who did you go to the concert with? / With whom did you go to the concert?
Which cup did you pour the tea into? / Into which cup did you pour the tea?
Where did he come from? / From where did he come?
What university are you going to apply to? / To what university are you going to apply?



But be careful of these substandard versions. We do not add "at" or "to" to these adverb expressions of time and place.

What time did you get up at? (no "at") / At what time did you get up?
Where is that train going to? (no "to") / To what place is that train going?

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Cup cakeIs it because 'you' are the one taking action?

Not really. After all, "you" are the one taking the action in e.g. "Who did you invite?", which does not need any preposition. The preposition comes from the fact that you buy flowers for someone.

Who did you buy those flowers for?
I bought those flowers for you!

Formally, we can say "For whom did you buy those flowers?". "for whom" ~ "for you". Of course, this sentence would not be used in conversational English.

We can also potentially say "Who did you buy flowers?", corresponding to the fact that we can say "I bought X flowers" (no "for"). "Who did you buy those flowers?" sounds slightly iffy to me, however.

Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
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Cup cake

1. Who bought you those flowers?

2. Who did you buy those flowers for?

Consider the declarative forms. There are two ways to say it.

Tom bought Laura those flowers. (no preposition phrase)
Tom bought those flowers for Laura. (preposition phrase)

Asking who the buyer is:

Who bought Laura those flowers? (OK)
Who bought those flowers for Laura? (OK)
relative clauses:
the person who bought Laura those flowers (OK)
the person who bought those flowers for Laura (OK)

Asking who the receiver is:

Who did Tom buy those flowers? (No )
Who did Tom buy those flowers for? (OK)
relative clauses:
the person who Tom bought those flowers (No )
the person who Tom bought those flowers for (OK)


So the statement form and the question asking for the subject of the sentence can be done two ways, but only the version with the preposition phrase can be transformed into a question about the indirect object (the receiver) or into the analogous relative clause.

CJ

Comments  
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Thanks, AlpheccaStars. Much appreciated. Emotion: smile

Thanks, GPY; very helpful.

I agree; the second examples don't sound right to me.

Emotion: smile

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Thanks, CJ. Great stuff! Emotion: smile