Objects in Grammar – How to Identify (With Examples)

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Objects are parts of sentences that every person must know if they want to be proficient in English. This component gives the sentence more details and complexity. 

The basic sentence structure is typically subject-verb-object. Keep reading to learn the three types of objects in grammar and how they differ from one another. 

It is simply a noun, a noun phrase, or a pronoun in a sentence affected by a verb or a preposition.

The three types in grammar are:

  • Direct object.
  • Indirect object.
  • Object of a preposition.

Direct Object Examples

Direct objects are the thing, person, or event being acted upon. This noun, noun phrase, or pronoun results from an action. In a basic sentence structure, the subject performs an action, and the product is the object. Here are some sentence examples:

  • John loves Mary.

The verb “loves” governs the direct object “Mary.”

  • I did the homework early because I enjoyed the topic.

The subject “I” did the action “did” on the direct object “homework.” In the same way, “I” also “enjoyed” the direct object “topic.”

The direct object can also be a basic pronoun. Take a look at this example: 

  • I appreciate this bag a lot.

The subject pronoun “I” performs the action “like,” which governs the noun “bag.” Therefore, “bag” is the direct object. 

Verbs with direct objects can also be phrasal verbs. 

  • My mom threw away my old gym clothes.

The verb phrase “threw away” has a direct object which is the complete noun phrase, “my old gym clothes.” 

The form of direct objects is typically a noun or pronoun. But they can also be in the form of noun clauses. Here are some more extensive sentence examples.

  • I only showed her what she wanted to see.

“What she wanted to see” is the direct object or the noun clause being acted upon.

How to Find the Direct Object

Here’s a simple step-by-step guide to finding the direct object:

  1. Look for the verb or verbs in the sentence. 
  2. Ask “what?” or “whom?” right after the verb. For example: “did what?”
  3. Answer the question with the correct noun, noun phrase, or object pronoun. 

Indirect Object Examples

Indirect objects are the recipients of verbs, as opposed to direct objects being the product of an action. Consider these examples:

  • Send me your location so that I can meet you there. 

There are two clauses in this sentence in the active voice. The first one is “Send me your location.” The recipient of the verb “send” is “me” and not “location.” Therefore, the indirect object is “me.”

The second clause is “So I can meet you there.” This sentence has no indirect object since the personal pronoun “you” is a direct object. 

  • Mary offered May a pillow.

The correct verb in this sentence is “offered,” which the indirect object “May” received. “Pillow” is a direct object because it answers the question, “offered what?”

How to Find the Indirect Object

You can find the indirect object by following these steps:

  1. Look for the verb or verbs in the sentence.
  2. Follow the verb with the direct object.
  3. Ask “for whom?” or “to whom?” For example: “Offered a pillow to whom?”

Objects are part of the universal grammar theory, which states that all languages have somewhat the same laws. 

One case is how positive sentences can be turned into negative sentences in all languages. Types of sentences like question sentences also exist in every language.

Note that not all languages follow the subject-verb-object structure (SVO). Chinese verbs usually have the same placement as English verbs. Other SVO languages include Bulgarian, Madenian, and Serbo-Croatian.

What is the Object of a Preposition?

Another object in English grammar is the object of the preposition. Objects of prepositions are types of objects that are affected by a preposition. Here are some examples:

  • She’s the best among us.

Objects of prepositions can also be objective pronouns. In the sentence above, “us” is governed by the preposition “among.” This pronoun is also known as the prepositional pronoun. 

“Among us” is a prepositional phrase, where “among” is the preposition and “us” is the object of the preposition or prepositional pronoun.

Do Not Use Direct Objects with Linking Verbs

While transitive verbs use direct objects, linking verbs use subject complements. These subject complements are in the nominative case and not objective–for example: 

  • Marc is our president.

The linking verb “is” governs “our president” because it answers the question, “is what?” However, “our president” is not a direct object because “is” is not a transitive verb.

A transitive verb is a verb that has a direct object. Meanwhile, intransitive verbs are forms of verbs with no direct objects. Here’s an example of a sentence with intransitive verbs:

  • Jewel cried yesterday. 

There is no answer to the question, “cried what?” so the verb is intransitive. 

  • They kick too hard. 

The verb “kick” does not govern any noun, noun phrase, or pronoun, so it’s an intransitive verb.

Here are more complex sentences with intransitive verbs.

  • Frank left at 7 AM because he was afraid of being late. 
  • Everyone danced to the song while Lyn was singing proudly. 

Defining Ditransitive Verbs

A ditransitive verb has two objects. These objects can be the direct object and indirect object or the direct object and object complement.

In secundative languages, those who receive the ditransitive verbs are like “patients” of monotransitive verbs–for example:

  • I sent my friend a letter.

“Sent” has a direct object “letter” and an indirect object “my friend.”

The opposite of ditransitive verbs is monotransitive verbs, which only have one object.

Objects Should be in the Objective Case

In the English language, this rule only applies to some pronouns. Here are some English sentence examples.

  • I wanted it, so I got it.

The verb “wanted” has a direct object, “it.” “It” can be in the subjective or objective case. In this sentence, it’s in the objective version.

  • I told her everything she wanted to know about it.

The pronoun “her” is the indirect object of the verb “told.” It’s also the objective-case form of the pronoun “she.”

  • Please talk to me.

Imperative sentences may also have objects. You see, “me” is the object of the preposition “to.” The pronoun is also the objective-case form of “I.” 

Objects in the Active and Passive Voice

Whether in active or passive voice, sentences may include objects. Here’s an example:

  • Manny bought a new perfume.
  • A new perfume was bought by Manny.

Perfume is an object because the active sentence can be turned into a passive one. This process is called passivization. 

Objects Matter

Learning objects in the English language will help you construct more correct sentences in the future. You’ll also quickly use the correct verb after a preposition or understand the difference between “who” and “whom.”

Remember the three types of objects:

  • A direct object, which is the product of an action.
  • An indirect object, which receives the action,
  • An object of the preposition, which modifies the verb in the sentence.