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Direct and indirect objects - Easy Learning Grammar

The object of a sentence (if there is one) normally comes after the verb phrase. Whether there is an object or not depends on the meaning of the verb. For example, if you want to talk about what someone is doing, you might say ‘She is writing’ but if you want to talk about the point of the activity, you might say, ‘She is writing a book’.
  • She was riding.
  • She was riding her horse.
  • Erica was writing.
  • Erica was writing a letter.
An object that follows a verb like this is called the direct object.
  • Rory found a pen.
  • Our cat doesn’t like milk.
Some verbs also have another sort of object, called an indirect object.
An indirect object names the person for or to whom something is
done. It is usually needed with verbs like give, find and owe. For example, with give, we need to name both the thing that is given and the person it is given to.
  • Mike owes Tom five pounds.
  • Rob gave me a box of chocolates.
  • Susan bought her rabbit some more food.
Some verbs must always take a direct object, some never take a direct object; others sometimes take one and sometimes don’t, depending on the meaning. When a verb has an object it is called a transitive verb.
  • Rowan bought a magazine.
  • I don’t like rap music.
When it does not have an object it is called an intransitive verb.
  • Lynn fainted.
  • Patrick screamed.
  • Soon, everyone was shouting.
Some verbs may be either transitive or intransitive.
  • Ann was reading (a letter).
  • Kim was drawing (a picture).
When a verb has both an indirect and a direct object it is called a ditransitive verb.
  • Amy owes Mark ten pounds.
  • Stephen gave me some flowers.
  • Katie bought her hamster a new cage.
A direct object is needed where the meaning of the verb requires something to give it a focus. This is why we sometimes say that a direct object ‘complements’ a verb.
  • Some verbs must have an adverbial as well as a direct object, for example to specify a place.
  • He placed the parcel on the chair.
  • She put the umbrella in a corner.

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