4 types of objects in English

In this post, we will learn about different types of objects we have in English. If you prefer watching videos to learn English, scroll down to the end and click on the video.

Types of objects in English

There are 4 different types of object in English. Most people know and talk about only two types of object: Direct object and Indirect object. But that’s not all. 

Here are the 4 types of objects that we have in the English language:

  • Direct object
  • Indirect object
  • Object of a preposition
  • Object of a possessive adjective

Note: The direct object and the indirect object are objects of an action verb.

4 types of objects in English with examples
4 types of objects in English with examples

 

Direct Object

A direct object is a noun or a pronoun that receives an action directly. It is something or somebody the action is acted upon.

Ask WHAT or WHOM to the verb to find out the direct object in a sentence. The answer to ‘what’ will be a thing, and the answer to ‘whom’ will be a person.

Examples:

  • I love Jerry.
    (I love ‘whom’ = Jerry)
  • I love my city.
    (I love ‘what’ = my city)
  • She slapped her teacher in the class.
    (slapped ‘whom’ = her teacher)

  • Let’s watch a movie together.
    (watch ‘what’ = a movie)

  • My friends don’t drink tea.
    (drink ‘what’ = tea)

  • I like the idea of helping each other.
    (like ‘what’ = the idea of helping each other)

  • Sam needed some money.
    (needed ‘what’ = some money)

  • She kisses me before going to bed.
    (kisses ‘whom’ = me)

A direct object, or any type of an object, can be a noun, a noun phrase, or a noun clause. We have already seen direct objects as a noun and a noun phrase; let’s take some examples of direct objects as noun clauses:

Examples:

  • I love what you do. (noun clause)
  • The police admired how we helped the lady. (noun clause)
  • Ron hates what she had last night. (noun clause)

NOTE: A direct object can be a gerund or an infinitive as they both can work as a noun.

Examples:

  • I love teaching.
  • I don’t hate smoking; I just don’t do it.
  • She enjoys working here.
  • We are planning to write a book.
  • The company decided to cut some employees.

NOTE: In order to have a direct object in a sentence, the main verb (action) must be transitive. A transitive verb is an action verb that is acted upon something or somebody. All these verbs in the above examples are transitive.

If your sentence has an intransitive verb in it, it can’t have a direct object. An intransitive verb is an action verb that can’t have a direct object.

Some intransitive verbs: sleep, laugh, fall, yawn, sit, yell, cry, whine, dance, smile, etc.

Examples:

  • He is crying her.
  • Why are you smiling/laughing me?
  • They are sleeping bed.

Corrections:

  • He is crying for her. ✔️
  • Why are you smiling/laughing at me? ✔️
  • They are sleeping on bed. ✔️

NOTE: An intransitive is not followed by a noun/pronoun directly. It is followed by a preposition as it can’t be acted upon an object directly.

Indirect object

An indirect object is generally a person that receives the direct object in a sentence. The direct object is done to or for the indirect object. We can’t have an indirect object in a sentence without having a direct object.

In order to have an indirect object in a sentence, the verb must be ditransitive. A ditransitive verb has two objects: direct and indirect object.

A list of common ditransitive verbs: get, gift, share, pass, tell, offer, bring, teach, show, send, allow, promise, charge, award, owe, mail, serve, sing, save, feed, lend, prescribe, etc.

Examples of indirect objects:

  • Monu got me an amazing phone last night.

    got ‘what‘ = an amazing phone (direct object)
    Got it ‘for whom’ = me (indirect object)

  • Could you pass us that book?
    pass ‘what’ = that book (direct object)
    pass it ‘to whom’ = us (indirect object)
  • They told my father to watch my videos.
    told ‘what’ = to watch my videos (direct object)
    told ‘whom’ = my father (indirect object)

More examples:

  • I will buy my mother a car.
  • Allow me to help you.
  • The teacher told me to call my parents.
  • The lady served us cold food.
  • Jon mailed me an unusual offer letter.
  • I teach them English.

NOTE: When the indirect object is placed after the direct object, it, grammatically, becomes an object of a preposition as it comes after a preposition in that case.

  • She has bought a book for Jon.

    (Jon, here, is not the indirect object anymore though we know the direct object is for Jon. It is the object of the preposition ‘for.’)
  • Alex is teaching English to me.

    (The same thing happens here. Because of the placement, the indirect object has become the object of the preposition ‘to ‘ grammatically.)

How to find direct and indirect object in a sentence?

If a sentence has both the direct and indirect object in it, ask “what” to the verb to find out the direct object, and “whom” to find out the indirect object.

  • I can’t tell him my secret.

I can’t tell “what” = my secret (direct object)
I can’t tell “whom” = him (indirect object)

Object of a preposition

An object of a preposition is a noun or a pronoun that comes right after a preposition. It can be a regular noun, or a gerund, or a pronoun, but it can’t be an infinitive.

Examples of an object of a preposition:

  • I was scared of dogs.
  • Everyone is crazy about learning English in my house.
  • The boy is hiding under the rock.
  • Jonny is addicted to smoking.
  • Some people don’t believe in the God.
  • We will go through the case soon.
  • The boys just jumped into the lake.
  • This is for you.

The object of a preposition can be a noun, noun phrase, or a noun clause. Let me show you some examples to illustrate this:

  • I was scared of those mean-looking men. (noun phrase)
  • We are not scared of what you can do to us. (noun clause)
  • Let’s not think about how it all started. (noun clause)
  • My family takes proud in what I do. (noun clause)

Unlike direct objects and indirect objects, an object of a preposition can come at the beginning of sentence, and even in the middle or at the end. Let me show you some examples to illustrate this point:

  • In the beginning of the show, I wasn’t taking him seriously.
  • On his request, we let the man sleep on our couch.
  • We jumped into the pool quickly.

Object of a possessive adjective

An object of a possessive object is a noun that comes right after a possessive adjective. It can be a noun, or a noun phrase, but it can’t be a noun clause.

Possessive adjectives: my, our, his, her, their, your, its

Examples of object of possessive adjective:

  • My new job is to help people achieve their goals.
  • I don’t need your help.
  • Is your assignment about mental health?
  • Everyone will have to look after their family.
  • Most students love your teaching.
  • His girlfriend helps him a lot.
  • Look at this car. Its main feature is to run on water.
  • They will appreciate your time.

Practice set!

  1. I don’t have anything for you.
  2. His speech impressed me.
  3. She won’t listen to you.
  4. Could you pass me the book?
  5. I enjoy his lessons.
  6. They didn’t allow me to enter the building.
  7. You can sleep now.
  8. Why are you getting angry at me?
  9. He got arrested last night.
  10. Jon is laughing like a mad man.

Answers:

  1. Direct object = anything
    Object of the preposition = you
  2. Object of the possessive adjective = his
    Direct object = me

3. Object of the preposition = you

4. Direct object = the book
Indirect object = me

5. Direct object = his lessons
Object of the possessive adjective “his” = lessons

6. Direct object = to enter the building
Indirect object = me

7. No object

8. Object of the preposition = me

9. No object

10. No object

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