Send me, lend me, give me? Or send to me, lend to me, give to me?
Both remembered being told by English teachers of yore that such constructions were incorrect. The teachers would have had students write “sent a letter to me” or “sent to me a letter.”
One fellow wrote: “Maybe I’m old school, graduated high school 1969, but your [use of] ‘Nancy Lichtman forwarded me’ would prompt my English teacher to ask how far were you forwarded. Would it be more proper to say ‘Nancy Lichtman forwarded to me?’ I’d just like to know.”
I’m sorry to have to disagree with any hard-working, well-meaning English teacher, but I think this might fall into the category of what linguist Arnold Zwicky calls “zombie rules.” As defined by copy editing expert John E. McIntyre of The Baltimore Sun, such rules are “the shibboleths and superstitions of grammar and usage that no reputable authority upholds but which continue to shamble through schoolrooms, devouring the brains of the young and impressionable.”
“Nancy Lichtman forwarded me an email” sounds natural to my ear, while “Nancy Lichtman forwarded to me an email” sounds artificial. Another option, “Nancy Lichtman forwarded an email to me,” is OK but a word longer than what I wrote.
There’s respectable precedent for either including or omitting “to” after a verb and before the pronoun “me.”
“On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree.”
I’m happy to sing that, but if I were speaking or writing, I’d probably just say, “On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave me a partridge in a pear tree.” It’s unlikely that anyone would think I was the gift, rather than the recipient.
“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.”
I’m with Shakespeare on this. “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend to me your ears” doesn’t have the same zing. And would anyone really think Mark Antony was imploring his listeners to lend him as if he were a cup of sugar?
“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink.”
This is the King James version, but many other versions of the Bible similarly omit “to” between the verb and the pronoun. I don’t think anyone sitting in church would say, “Wait a second, ‘gave me’? Gave me to whom?”
I sometimes find it difficult to set aside the zombie rules I was taught, especially when those rules were imparted with humor by teachers I respected. But as a writer I must ask myself, “Is this phrase truly likely to be misinterpreted?”
In the cases of “sent me a letter” and “forwarded me an email,” the answer is no.