Direct vs indirect object

Hello lovely students. You may have come across direct and indirect objects before in reading and thought “what does this all mean?”

Well, fortunately for you, this extremely useful article has been written by yours truly to help you with all those questions that you have about them.

Shall we start?

Direct and indirect objects are straightforward once you know about them

What are direct and indirect objects?

First of all, you have to know that any direct or indirect object is either a noun phrase, noun or pronoun. That’s the golden rule that you should remember. Direct objects receive.

A direct object is the receiver of the transitive verb in the sentence. It’s important to know that verbs that take a direct object are called transitive verbs, and verbs that don’t are called intransitive verbs. You must remember these two details about direct objects:

1) The direct object receives the action in a sentence.

2) The direct object answers the question of the what or the whom of the sentence.

On the other hand, the indirect object answers the questions of to whom, for whom or for what. Indirect objects alert what or who gets the direct object. The indirect object in a sentence structure can only be used where there is a direct object.

They cannot be used without it as the indirect object receives the action directly from the direct object.

This sounds a bit complicated, doesn’t it?

Well don’t worry, I have plenty of examples for us to look at below.

The direct object receives the action (like we receive emails)

Direct object examples and their formation

To really get into what a direct object is, take a look at these examples. We’ll start with an easy one.

The students eat lunch.

Here the students are the subjects. The subject’s action is to eat. What do they eat? Lunch. 

Here lunch is the what of the sentence.

Let’s take a look at a second example.

The dog ate his treat.

Can you identify what the direct object is? It’s his treat. The subject is the dog and the action verb is eat. Here is his treat is the direct object.

Let’s take a look at more direct object examples.

The girl hugged her cat.

The man set the table.

Stan likes my father.

A puppy eating his treat

Indirect object examples and formation

The indirect object works a bit differently from the direct object. Their entire existence depends only on whether there is a direct object in a sentence. An easy way to remember this is to think of them as being the least powerful of the two.

Indirect objects are often linked to the direct object with a preposition or article.

The sentence structure to use an indirect object is usually: subject + transitive verb + direct object + preposition + indirect object.

Let’s take a look at some.

Anwyn threw the ball to Lori.

Catya gave the letter to Ernie.

Sandro sent the email to Bill.

However, sometimes the direct object and the indirect object change positions. Take this example for instance.

Anwyn threw Lori the ball.

Other examples of this change include.

She gave her father the teapot.

I read the toddlers a book.

All that you need to remember is that the direct object answers the what. So if you were to ask What did she give her father the response would be the teapot and so on.

It is also worth me mentioning that certain verbs in the English language almost always need a direct and indirect object. Throw, give, spoke and send are key examples.

Teapots are always nice to get

Similarities between indirect and direct objects

1) More than one

There can be more than one direct object in a sentence and there can be more than one indirect object in a sentence.

Direct object: He grabbed her phone and keys from the bedside table.

Indirect object: She read Laura and Gershon a story.

2) They have to be noun phrases, pronouns or nouns

This one was mentioned right at the top, but it is so important it is worth repeating.

Losing your keys and phone is not ideal before going out

Differences between indirect and direct objects

1) Difference in dependency

Indirect objects depend on direct objects but not vice versa.

2) Difference in importance

Many sentences need direct objects to be complete, yet the same thing cannot be said about indirect objects.

3) Difference in the relation to the action verb

The direct object obtains the action of the verb whereas the indirect objects obtain the direct object.

A note: watch out for linking verbs such as as is and were in sentences as they may not always contain direct objects.

Indirect objects depend on direct objects like we depend on technology

Is that everything?

Absolutely not. For more engaging English content, check out my YouTube channel English with Lucy.