The Grammatical Object - Part 2: Direct and indirect objects

Updated: Dec 14, 2020



What is the difference between direct and indirect objects?



Direct objects


In the previous post, titled Part 1: What is the object?, we saw examples of short sentences with objects.


Michael is reading a letter.

My cousin paints portraits.

I really hate camping.

Have they discussed building a house?



These sentences follow a simple subject + verb + object structure.

The object follows immediately after the verb and is the direct focus of the verb.

These closely connected objects are called direct objects.


Here are a few more examples:


Lisa wrote a letter.

We said hello.

They bought a gift.



Indirect objects


There is another kind of object called an indirect object. This might be described as the person whom the action is done to or for.


Lisa wrote a letter to her cousin.

We said hello to the visitor.

They bought a gift for you.



Using direct and indirect objects together


From the examples above, we can see that a direct object (DO) and an indirect object (IO) can be used together in the same sentence.


Lisa wrote a letter (DO) to her cousin (IO).


It is also possible to have one without the other.


IO only: Lisa wrote to her cousin.

DO only: Lise wrote a letter.


Notice that an IO is not always about a person. I can also be about a thing.


I designed a poster for the movie.



In the next blog post, we will see why grammatical objects can be complicated.


Part 3: When (and when not) to use objects



Do you have a question about linguistics or the language industry? Ask Shana to learn more.

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