To whom did you give the letter?

Whom did you give the letter?

What is diffrence between "to whom" and "whom".

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To whom did you give the letter?

Whom did you give the letter TO?

What is differnce between "to whom" and "whom".

JT: When we "front the preposition", Hanuman, 'whom' is used. It's a more formal construction that's not as common in speech.

In speech, you'd be more likely to hear,

Who did you give the letter to?
In addition, in Latin, which is where English gets its who, whom distribution, word order is not fixed, so the purpose of a suffix (e.g., -m, and so on) is to tell us the word's grammatical function (e.g. subject, object, etc). In terms of traditional grammar, whom is the more preferred as the object of a preposition (e.g., to), who the more preferred as the subject. But. . . in English, word order is fixed, so whether a speaker uses to whom or whom. . .(to) in the context above doesn't really matter all that much in terms of meaning.
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Right, English used to ditinguish between subjects and objects by using a suffix such as Latin did, but gave up this tradition to follow an analytical structure (often: preposition + noun, noun here in a widened sense) that also required a fixed word order.
Agreed, and the suffix (-m) still carries meaning, though, right?

1. To whom did you give the letter?
2. Whom did you give the letter to?

3. Whom did you give the letter?
4. *Who did you give the letter?

Example 3. is grammatical without the preposition To, to, whereas example 4. is ungrammatical without either the preposition or the suffix. As a set pair to whom is redundant, but -m nevertheless still carries meaning in Modern English.

In short, since "to" is becoming redundant in that context, the need for whom, an agglutinating form, is being reintroduced into the English language, which describes evolution, or progress as a process of counter cycles. That is, efficiency is a matter of juggling agglutinating and analytical systems.
I have read some linguistic articles that argued that
(1)"Bob taught the students English" and
(2)"Bob taught English to the students"
are slightly different in the meaning.

According to them, (1) means the students actually learned at least some English from Bob
but (2) doesn't connote anything like that: it states merely the fact that Bob was an English teacher for the students.

Do you agree to such an argument?

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Nice addition, paco.

Yes. I agree, and here's my supporting evidence.

(1) Bob taught (V) the students (IO) English (DO). students (learned) English
(2) Bob taught (V) English (DO) to the students (IO). Bob taught English

'taught', a ditransitive verb, subcategorizes for the following semantic structure: DO + IO. Now, the DO and the IO are not equal. The DO is primary, the IO secondary. That is, the DO and the verb are more tighly bound semantically than are the IO and the verb. The structure looks like this,

(2) V+DO+IO

[ [taught] [English] ] [to students] ] ]
Bob taught English

Semantically, the verb and its DO form their own constituent structure, to which the IO ('students') is added. The IO is part of the verb phrase; it's just not a primary part of that phrase.

Now, if the order is reversed, or what appears to be so given linear representation, a change in meaning results.

(1) V+IO+DO

[ [taught] [students] [English] ]
students (learned) English

Notice the IO ('students') doesn't replace, or switch places with the DO ('English), but that it intervenes. It becomes part of the V+DO constituent structure, which gives us the meaning, "students (learn) English".

In short, what we "see" as a reversal of word order is actually an incorporation tactic, or a way of including the IO as an integral part of the V+DO ingredient.

[V+DO]+[IO] => [V+[IO]+DO] ([IO] is incorportated)

Do you agree?
Hello Casi

Thank you for the explanation. It surpasses in clearness any articles I've ever read. Now I'm wondering if this kind of argument can be applicable to any ditransitive verbs. How about in the case of "wrirte", for example. Does "I wrote her a letter" imply "she accepted an read it" and "I wrote a letter to her" does not necessarily imply so. Could we understand this way?


3. Whom did you give the letter?

Example 3. is grammatical without the preposition To,

JT: Are you sure, Casi? I have some misgivings on this.
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