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What are Direct and Indirect Objects?

Omkar Phatak Feb 23, 2020
How to identify direct and indirect object in sentences? A detailed explanation of both with examples helps you with all the answers.
One can never overstate the importance of grammar in any language. It provides the order needed in expression of the words of a language, for it to be comprehensible. The English language has precise rules of grammar and composition, that need to be understood.
One part of English grammar that you need to know is the kind of words that are used, described as the 8 parts of speech and the second part talks about how these words are put together to make a meaningful sentence.
A language inherits the nature of the causal world it describes. To describe causes and effects of actions in this world, a sentence in any language needs to have an orderly structure.
Thus, every sentence describing an action, needs to have a subject (who is the doer of the action) and the predicate (which contains the verb describing the action and the object). The object is a thing towards which the actions are directed. There are two main types of objects. They are direct and indirect.

Definition of Direct and Indirect Object

Direct object

A direct object is the word describing a thing which actually receives the action. It is the entity on which the action may be performed. This makes direct objects easier to identify.

  • Tom used his bicycle.
  • The iceberg impact sunk the Titanic.
  • She ultimately revealed her secret.
  • He robbed the bank.
  • Tom never underestimated his foes.

Indirect object

An indirect object identifies the entity for whom a specific action in a sentence might have been performed, though the verb acts on the direct object.

  • Peter left all his money to his only kid.
  • Jeremy sold me his property.
  • We sent him a notice.
  • I relayed you a message.
Hope the examples have given you a good idea about what indirect objects are. It is the object that indirectly benefits or is related to the action performed by a verb on the direct object. It can be easily identified by asking the right questions to the verb.

How to Identify Them?

A direct object is easiest to identify. Just asking a question - 'What?' to a verb, will provide you with the direct object. Like in the example (The iceberg impact sunk the Titanic.), if you ask the question 'what was sunk?', you get the answer as 'Titanic', which is the direct object.
The indirect object is trickier to identify. If you ask the question 'For whom?' or 'To whom?', to the verb and direct object combination, you may get the indirect object. Like in the example, (I relayed you a message), if you ask the question 'To whom was the message sent?', you get the answer 'me', which is the indirect object.
The key to understanding and identifying indirect and direct objects is to analyze and break up a sentence into its constituent parts. All you have to do, is see the causal flow of the sentence and identify the object towards which an action is directed, to know the indirect and direct objects.
Practice is the key to identifying grammatical constructs that complete the causal description of a real world event, described by a sentence.