Hello, teachers!

[1] Would you please tell me if these sentences are grammatically acceptable? I think they are all ok, but I doubt about #5. Is it also acceptable?
1. After grading them, the teacher handed back the students their exam papers.
2. After grading them, the teacher handed the students back their exam papers.
3. After grading them, the teacher handed back their exam papers to the students.
4. After grading them, the teacher handed their exam papers back to the students.
5. After grading them, the teacher handed their exam papers to the students back.

[2] Here, can I have the same meaning even though I omit 'back'?
6. After grading them, the teacher handed the students their exam papers.
7. After grading them, the teacher handed their exam papers to the students.

Thank you very much.
Best Regards.
Original Post
I will begin by saying that the sentences are not grammatically wrong with the pronoun "them" in the first phrase and the noun to which it refers ("exam papers") in the main clause, but usually we mention the noun first, then use the pronoun. (Of course if the sentences were to be rearranged in that manner, the question would not apply.) For purposes of this answer, I will consider only the main clause, except for one of the sentences.

1. After grading them, the teacher handed back the students their exam papers.

This word order is not natural. If the verb phrase were "handed back TO the students..." it would be correct.

2. After grading them, the teacher handed the students back their exam papers.

OK, but not the best.

3. After grading them, the teacher handed back their exam papers to the students.

This is OK but not as natural as Sentence 4 below. It would be better if "their" were replaced by "the."

4. After grading them, the teacher handed their exam papers back to the students.

Without the first phrase it's the best choice. It would also be better if "their" were replaced by "the."

5. After grading them, the teacher handed their exam papers to the students back.

This is not English.

Sentences 6 and 7 do not have the particle "back." In the case of exam papers or anything else that has been "handed IN," the only logically appropriate verb is "handed BACK."

Marilyn Martin

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