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Is the sentence "Il lance la balle à moi" completely incorrect, or is it merely just awkward and heavy? Or, is it in fact sometimes acceptable in certain contexts (for example, to emphasize that it's me who he throws it to, instead of his best friend)?

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  • Very bad, in my opinion. BUT: Il m'a lancé la balle, à moi, pas à toi. Only in speech.
    – Lambie
    Aug 9 '21 at 19:00
  • You know when I was learning French, during my teenage years, I just took what was given to me. If you just go along in stages without over analyzing, you will come to hear these things for yourself. Well, that's my two cents. However, one has to first internalize a whole bunch of stuff....
    – Lambie
    Aug 9 '21 at 21:10
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    If I undestand you correctly, you think I would be better to not think of these questions that are "overanalysing", because I will learn what is correct or not through years of exposure. I, on the other hand, believe that there is use to such "overanalysis", and I wish that it would be assumed that it is valid and useful for me to ask such questions without me having to justify them. Justification for this question is: It is common for beginners to translate the English "He threw the ball at me" into the word-for-word "Il lancé la balle à moi", and I wanted to know how incorrect that was.
    – silph
    Aug 9 '21 at 21:38
  • I don't know what beginners do or don't do. How could I possibly know that? Every beginner is different. I learned French at first through systematic lessons in books. One of my books had all the idiomatic expressions in every text at the end, in a list. I am not saying don't ask questions, I am saying that if you see a grammar rule, don't try and change the rule right off the bat. First, let it sink in. Anyway, I answered your actual question, didn't I? :)
    – Lambie
    Aug 9 '21 at 21:58
  • Hi silph, I'd suggest you read the sections on object pronouns and stressed pronouns in French Grammar and Usage by Hawkins and Towell. It's probably at the right level for you (judging by some of your questions), and it's good at comparing French and English.
    – Anonymous
    Aug 9 '21 at 23:15
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It would be marginally correct in some contexts, rather rare, as for example in a stream of consciousness strain of thinking.

  • Il lance la balle à moi… m'y attendais pas… ma veine… encore raté… (understated: "not to someone slse")

The case proposed by user Lambie in the comments (modification) is also correct, if slightly changed (you can't use the object pronoun "me" as it makes for redundancy with "à moi".

  • Il a lancé la balle à moi, pas à toi.

However, with the introduction of a second comma and stressing of "à moi", as written in her comment, it is also correct.

  • Il m'a lancé la balle, à moi, pas à toi.

There is no redundancy here as "à moi" is used to insist on the fact.

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  • and if i understand you correctly, in most (all) other situations, it would sound completely incorrect?
    – silph
    Aug 9 '21 at 22:26
  • @silph That is what I believe to be true, but it is not impossible that some other cases might exist that have escaped my observation.
    – LPH
    Aug 9 '21 at 22:40
  • J'ai bien écrit: Il m'a lancé la balle, à moi, pas à toi. C'est tout.
    – Lambie
    Aug 9 '21 at 22:55
  • LPH, i just want you to know that i found your entire answer completely understandable, even if Lambie thinks the English is too non-standard. i appreciate you writing up the answer and responding to my question for clarification.
    – silph
    Aug 9 '21 at 23:28
  • @Lambie Vous avez bien écrit "Il m'a lancé la balle, à moi, pas à toi.", oui, mais ce n'est pas la phrase dans la requête, puisque vous ajoutez une virgule après "balle"; il faut donc rendre cela bien clair, tout au moins aussi clair que possible. Je ne vois pas ce qu'il y a de bizarre à appeler une phrase un cas.
    – LPH
    Aug 10 '21 at 0:08
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An addition to LPH's answer.

The sentence il donne la balle à moi is 100% understandable by native French speakers but the chance for it to be produced by them is close to 0%.

However here are some rare situations in which this construction might be heard.

  1. You start a sentence without knowing who the ball will be given to then realize it's you:

Il donne la balle... à moi !

  1. To preserve the word ordering of a previous sentence:

La balle, il la donne à qui ?
Il la donne à moi ! (vs il me la donne)

  1. When à moi has a complement:

Il donne la balle à moi et à personne d'autre.
N'oublie pas, et lorsque tu pourras parler, raconte-le, à moi qui ai tout oublié, Bernard Werber, Nous, le dieux, 2004

  1. To emphazise "to me":

Il sursaute légèrement mais je sens son visage sourire sous mes doigts. "Je donne ma langue au chat." Je le bouscule gentiment. "Donne-la à moi plutôt." https://degradation.skyrock.com/55.html

This kind of grammar can also be used to represent French spoken by non native people:

– Et c'est toi qui t'es chargé de l'exécution ?
– Sa Hautesse a donné l'ordre à moi, dit le nègre en se redressant avec orgueil.
– Mais c'est la besogne du bourreau et non la tienne.
– Sa Hautesse pas avoir eu le temps d'emmener son bourreau, et il a pris cuisiner à lui. Donnez donc à moi un grand couteau pour couper la tête à Osmin.
– C'est bien, c'est bien, interrompit le chef, on va te le chercher, ton grand couteau. Attends-moi ici.

Le Corricolo, Alexandre Dumas, 1843.

– Mais il n'est au camp que quelques jours par mois.
– Alors, qu'il donne l'argent pour nourrir et habiller ma fille.
– Je connais Aïcha, Abd-El-Salam, elle n'acceptera jamais de l'argent.
– Alors, qu'il donne l'argent à moi.

Les nouveaux seigneurs, Pierre-Jean Maintigneux, 1961

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La balle il me l'a lancée à moi

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  • 1
    Peux-tu développer ?
    – Toto
    Aug 10 '21 at 8:32
  • Pour faire voir que c'est à moi qu'il a lancé la balle
    – Sam Divin
    Aug 10 '21 at 8:36
  • ça n'est pas une réponse à la question
    – XouDo
    Sep 17 '21 at 8:48

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