#EngClass: Direct and indirect object

In this post, we are going to learn about what direct object and indirect object are, and how to identify and use them in a sentence.

Direct object

A direct object is a noun, a phrase, or a pronoun that follows a transitive verbA simple sentence containing a transitive verb and a direct object usually follows this formula:

  subject + transitive verb + direct object
  • Example:
    Sally buys a watch.

Sally

buys

a watch

subject

transitive verb

direct object

A direct object answers the question “what?” or “who?” in a sentence. The direct object in the example sentence above answers the question, “What does Sally buy?”

Indirect object

Pay attention to this sentence:

Evan gives his mother a gift.

“Evan” is the subject, “gives” is the transitive verb, but which is the direct object “his mother” or “a gift”? Let’s identify the direct object by asking the question “What does Evan give?” The answer is, “Evan gives a gift,” not “Evan gives his mother.”

So what is the role of “his mother” in that sentence? Yup, you guessed it, fellas, “his mother” acts as the indirect object of that sentence.

The indirect object of a sentence is the recipient of the direct object. It always comes between a transitive verb and a direct object. If a sentence contains an indirect object, it usually follows this formula:

  subject + transitive verb + indirect object + direct object 

An indirect object answers the question “to what/whom” or “for what/whom” an action is done. Let’s ask, “To whom Evan gives the gift?” The answer would be, “to his mother”. You can also see in the example sentence that “his mother” comes between the verb and the direct object. So, that is how you identify that “his mother” is the indirect object of that sentence.

An indirect object is basically a prepositional phrase in which the preposition “to” or “for” is not stated. If a sentence contains an indirect object, you can reform it following this formula:

  subject + transitive verb + direct object + to/for indirect object

So, you can also modify the example sentence into this form:

Evan gives a gift to his mother.

This modification is useful when the direct object is a pronoun instead of a noun. For example, you might say, “My sister doesn’t use her blue purse anymore, so she handed me it,” because you want to follow the first formula.

she

handed me it
subject transitive verb indirect object

direct object

You follow a valid formula, but that sentence sounds a little weird, doesn’t it, fellas? That’s when the second formula can be useful to smooth out your sentence so that it sounds more natural.

You can modify that sentence like this, “My sister don’t use her blue purse anymore, so she handed it to me.” Now the sentence sounds more natural and can be easily understood.

she

handed it to me
subject transitive verb direct object

prepositional phrase

So now you know what direct object and indirect object are, how to identify them, and how to form a sentence using both types of object. Understanding these grammar terms also helps you deal with grammar more easily in the future.

 

Compiled and written by @Fafafin for @EnglishTips4U on Thursday, January 12, 2016

 

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^MQ

 

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2 responses to “#EngClass: Direct and indirect object

  1. Pingback: #GrammarTrivia: Non-Continuous Verbs | @EnglishTips4U·

  2. Pingback: #GrammarTrivia: ‘wh-‘ words | @EnglishTips4U·

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