a. This watch was given to me by my father.
b. This watch was given me by my father.
c. This watch was sent to me by my father.
d. This watch was sent me by my father.

Are they all correct?
If so, which is preferred?

Thanks!
Original Post
Not an easy question.

First, at Google Books:

1235 on "was given to me by"
http://books.google.com/books?q=%22was+given+to+me+by%22&btnG=Search+Books

1159 on "was given me by"
http://books.google.com/books?q=%22was+given+me+by%22&btnG=Search+Books

1038 on "was sent to me by"
http://books.google.com/books?q=%22was+sent+to+me+by%22&btnG=Search+Books

748 on "was sent me by"
http://books.google.com/books?q=%22was+sent+me+by%22&btnG=Search+Books

show that all are used with about the same frequency in published books.

However, at the New York Times, which is generally more demanding:

333 from nytimes.com for "was given to me by"
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=site%3Anytimes.com...me+by%22&btnG=Search
2 from nytimes.com for "was given me by"

88 from nytimes.com for "was sent to me by"
0 from nytimes.com for "was sent to me by"

thus I'd use the forms with "to."
quote:
This watch was given to me by my father.
b. This watch was given me by my father.
c. This watch was sent to me by my father.
d. This watch was sent me by my father.

All four sentences are good. I agree with Jerry's conclusions: "to me" is more frequently used and more natural.

Another point: If the indirect object -- "me" in this case -- is a longer phrase, you would probably use the construction with "to," like this:

  • The money was sent to all twenty-five great-grandchildren by the lawyer.

  • Prizes were given by the school principal to the first, second and third place in each category
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