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Except for the special predicates that follow the verb to be, most predicates contain at least one object. An object is anything that receives the action of the verb. In these sentences, the objects are underlined.

  • Kentaro gave me his notes.
  • They have been installing new computers in the lab.
  • I wrote a letter to the president.

There are two types of objects: direct and indirect.

direct object tells who or what received the action of the verb. A direct object can be a person or a thing.

  • The ancient Egyptians built the pyramids. (What did they build? The pyramids.)
  • The noise scared Anna. (Whom did the noise scare? Anna.)
  • The Tylers raise chickens. (What do they raise? Chickens.)

An indirect object tells to whom or for whom the action of the verb was done. An indirect object cannot appear in a predicate unless a direct object already exists. Indirect objects are usually people or living beings. In these sentences, the direct object has a line beneath it, while the indirect object is bolded.

  • We gave our teacher a birthday card.
  • The librarian read the children a story.
  • Sarah bought Steve some flowers.

We can move the indirect object to the end of the sentence if we use to or for.

  • We gave a birthday card to our teacher.
  • The librarian read a story to the children.
  • Sarah bought some flowers for Steve.

Notice these common English sentence patterns:

SubjectVerbDirect Object.
SubjectVerbDirect Object
SubjectVerbIndirect ObjectDirect Object.
SubjectVerbDirect Objectto/forIndirect Object.

Like a subject, a direct object can have a complement. An object complement renames, describes, identifies, or explains a direct object. Do not confuse object complements with direct objects.

This gloomy weather makes me tired.

  • me = direct object
  • tired = object complement

Her business sense earned her great wealth.

  • her = indirect object
  • wealth = direct object

(This sentence can be rephrased to pull out the indirect object: Her business sense earned great wealth for her.)

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