***** NOT A TEACHER *****
I have found some information in a scholarly book * that may interest you.
IF I understand the book, I would say:
1. Yes, there are some rules. But -- in my opinion -- one would go crazy trying to remember all the rules and all the exceptions.
2. Yes, I would say that -- unfortunately -- usage is the best way for anyone to learn about this matter.
Here are some points from that book:
3. Many one-syllable verbs allow indirect object movement [the indirect object right after the verb]. E.g., give, send, lend, teach, tell, etc.
4. Some two-syllable verbs do not allow indirect object movement. E.g., open, explain, describe, say, mention, etc. But some do: offer, award, scramble, reserve, etc.
5. But some of those verbs in #4 DO allow indirect object movement IF one keeps the preposition:
They mentioned the new restaurant on Putney Road to me.
They mentioned to me the new ....
6. A piece of "good" news. That is to say, here is a rule that does not seem to have any exceptions: "[N]o verb of three or more syllables may take indirect object movement."
7. The two scholars admit that this whole system is "rather arbitrary" -- especially when it comes to two-syllable verbs.
Complete credit to: Mesdames Celce-Murcia and Diane Larsen-Freeman, The Grammar Book / An ESL/EFL Teacher's Course (I have the 1983 edition). It was published by Newbury House Publishers (Rowley, London, Tokyo).