Ditransitive verbs in English

Ditransitive verbs are very common in English. It is possible that you might not have heard this name. In this article, I’ll help you master what ditransitive verbs in English are, and how they are different from transitive verbs.

There is a video lesson on “What are ditransitive verbs in English?” at the end of the article. If can directly watch the video lesson if you wish to.

What are ditransitive verbs?

Ditransitive verbs are action verbs that are followed by two objects: the direct object and the indirect object. The indirect object comes right after the ditransitive verb and just before the direct object. A transitive verb just has a direct object, but a ditransitive verb has both the direct and the indirect object.

The meaning of a ditransitive verb can be understood by breaking it into two parts: Di and Transitive.

  • Di = two
  • Transitive = that has an object
Ditransitive verbs examples
Ditransitive verbs examples

Some common ditransitive verbs in English

getbuyorderthrow
givesuggestbuysing
giftaskbringserve
teachshowhandsell
tellreadpromiseowe
Common ditransitive verbs in English

Examples:-

  • My father gifted me a car on my last birthday.

The verb gifted is ditransitive. It is followed by an indirect object (me) and a direct object (a car).
Gifted what = a car
Gifted whom = me

  • She gave him some chocolates.

She gave what = some chocolates (Direct object)
She gave some chocolates to whom = him (Indirect object)

Note: Ask WHAT to find out the direct object and WHOM to find out the indirect object.

More examples of ditransitive verbs:

  • My mother taught me how to cook.
    Direct object = how to cook
    Indirect object = me
  • I got the kids their favorite toys.
    Direct object = their favorite toys
    Indirect object = the kids
  • Jacob told us a crazy story about his uncle.
    Direct object = a crazy story
    Indirect object = us
  • Max, my cousin, bought my mother a beautiful dress.
    Direct object = a beautiful dress
    Indirect object = my mother
  • Please suggest me a good movie to watch.
    Direct object = a good movie
    Indirect object = me
  • She asked the teacher a really difficult question.
    Direct object = a really difficult question
    Indirect object = the teacher
  • I will show you my secret diary.
    Direct object = my secret diary
    Indirect object = you
  • The kid read her mother a story.
    Direct object = a story
    Indirect object = her mother
  • My aunt brought us some handmade cookies.
    Direct object = some handmade cookies
    Indirect object = us
  • Hand me that book!
    Direct object = that book
    Indirect object = me
  • You promised us something yesterday.
    Direct object = something
    Indirect object = us
  • Throw me the ball.
    Direct object = the ball
    Indirect object = me
  • Sing me a song, please!
    Direct object = a song
    Indirect object = me
  • You owe her some money.
    Direct object = some money
    Indirect object = her

Can the direct object come before the indirect object?

Let’s find out together. Let’s take some examples and switch the position of the direct and the indirect object.

She gave him some chocolates.
Jon bought me a phone.

In the above example, the direct objects (some chocolates, a phone) are coming after the indirect objects (him, me). Let’s switch the places and see if the sentences still make sense.

She gave some chocolates him. (incorrect)
Jon bought a phone me. (incorrect)

The sentences do not make any sense now. So, it is clear that the direct object can’t be placed before the indirect object. The only possible way to so that is to change the direct object into a prepositional phrase.

She gave some chocolates to him.
Jon bought a phone for me.

Check out my YouTube lesson on “what are ditransitive verbs?”

Ditransitive verbs in English

Related lessons to check out (YouTube videos):

2 thoughts on “Ditransitive verbs in English”

  1. Hey Ashish,
    My name is Sudipta and I am pursuing English Major. I have been going through all the topics of Grammar and I have a doubt related to a question.

    In the following sentence, could you please help me identify if it is a case of Di-Transitive verb ? Also, could you help detecting the presence of the direct, indirect, or the object complement ?

    Q: John helped Meera with her studies.

    Reply
    • Hello, Sudipta!
      The given example does have a ditransitive verb. The verb ‘help’ can’t take objects.
      A ditransitive verb answers both WHAT and WHOM.

      Examples of some ditransitive verbs in sentences:

      1. I gave him a special gift last night.
      ‘Give’ is a ditransitive verb here. It has both objects:
      Gave what = a special gift (Direct object)
      Gave what = him (Indirect object)

      2. The teacher got us some mazing notes.

      And an object complement is very different from an object. It modifies an object.
      Please refer to this lesson to master object complements:
      https://youtu.be/pC6bHFRocx8

      Reply

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