- "Alex gave Brian a book"
- "Alex gave a book to Brian."
- "Alex explained the book to Brian" parses,
- *"Alex explained Brian the book" is an error.
The rule of thumb is that monosyllabic Germanic verbs undergo dative shift while polysyllabic French and Latin-derived verbs don't. If in doubt, students can use the "Alex gave a book to Brian" form and they won't make an error.