Imagine for a moment you’re a teacher reading a student’s paper and you come across the statement, “My mother gave me birth.”
What do you do? Do you blow right past it, thinking it sounds fine? Do you subtract a few points for the utter inelegance of it? Do you note the subtle biblical vibe and decide to give the student good grades from here out just in case he’s the second coming of someone you don’t want to mess with? Do you whip out your red pen and write, “Duh”?
If you’re like a teacher who wrote me recently, it’s the grammar that interests you most — how “she gave me birth” is treated as just another way of saying “she gave birth to me.” But is that grammatical, or is it just wrong?