Can anyone clarify this?

Why do we say "Tell me" and not "tell to me"?
but "Explain to me" and not "Explain me"

I understand that we explain something TO someone, but don't we say "Tell me something" and not "Tell to me"?

What is the difference between:

"Give the book to me" ....... and "Give me the book"?
If these sentences are both true can't we also say:

"Please explain the difference to me" & "Please explain me the difference."?

Are there any similar examples/combinations?

Any help is greatly appreciated,

The verbs listed below are those that take a ditransitive construction, classified semantically. The verbs marked '*' are verbs that are similar in the meaning to the ditransitive verbs but cannot take a ditarnsitive construction.

[1] give, pass, hand, lend (*donate, *contribute)
[2] send, ship, mail (*transport, *deliver, *courier, *messenger)
[3] throw, toss, kick, fling, flip, slap, poke (*propel, *release)
[4] tell, ask, show, teach, quote, cite, write, read (*explain, *announce, *describe, *deliver, *admit, *confess, *recount, *repeat, *report, *declare, *transmit)
[5] bake, build, cook, make, knit, fix, sew (*construct, *create, *design, *devise)
[6] get, find, buy, order, win, earn (*obtain, *purchase, *collect)
[7] bring, take, (*carry)
[8] offer, leave, assign, award, reserve, grant, bequeath, refer, recommend, guarantee, permit, promise
[9] cost, spare, save, charge, fine, forgive, envy, begrudge, deny, refuse

Verbs of French/Latin origin in general are resistive to ditransitive constructions. But there are still many verbs of French/Latin origin that can take a ditransitive construction, which are underlined in the list above.

It is "nearly a rule" that the monosyllabic verbs take "me" and the polysyllabic verbs take "to me", at least in the majority of the verb classes illustrated.

And in any case the mention of who gets the explanation is much less common in English than in many other languages. It's perfectly idiomatic to say, "Could you please explain how to do this?" You don't have to say, "Could you please explain to me how to do this?" In fact, the second version is less idiomatic.

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Hi, Tim,

Unfortunately there is no rule that can give non-native speakers a clue. You just have to learn verbs AND structures - that's the only way to know how they operate.
The reason for the different way we use verbs is calld VALENCY. It shows how words (in our case verbs) combine with other words.

TELL can take two objects (a direct and an indirect one) and allows the so-called dative movement transformation, i.e. the shift of the indirect object to a position before the direct object with deletion of "to":
EX.: She told the truth (direct object) to him (indirect object). OR She told him the truth. (In the case of TELL, the latter is more common.)

GIVE is of the same valency category as TELL. Therefore:
EX.: She gave the book to him. OR She gave him the book.

EXPLAIN, however, follows another pattern - it does not allow the dative movement transformation. So your sentence "Please explain me the difference" is incorrect. You can only say "Please explain the difference to me."

Other categories require a specific preposition, an infinitive (with or without "to"), an -ing form etc. There are a total of 19 different patterns!

Hope that helps!
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Hello CJ
It is "nearly a rule" that the monosyllabic verbs take "me" and the polysyllabic verbs take "to me", at least in the majority of the verb classes illustrated.

Your syllable number theory seems better than my word source theory. I've tried to find exceptions but almost failed. The only two exceptions I found are; "I have begrudged you your success" and "Forgive me my sin".

I've been reading all comments and I'd like to answer, what about say.
he said to Ellen....
wow, said Ellen
what happens with love?