An object is one of the five major elements of clause structure. The other four are subject, verb, adjunct and complement.
Objects are typically noun phrases (a noun or pronoun and any dependent words before or after it). Objects normally follow the verb in a clause:
Everyone likes her. She knows everyone.
They didn’t take their mountain bikes with them.
Have you seenthe car keys?
Yes I hadthemearlier.
There are direct objects and indirect objects. A direct object (in bold) is the thing or person that is affected by the action of the verb. An indirect object (underlined) is usually a person (or animal) who receives a direct object:
They gave hera present when she left.
Can you get mesome butter?
A direct object shows who or what the action of the verb affects:
That computer hasn’t got a mouse.
Nobody writes letters these days.
Does she play tennis?
An indirect object is usually a person or an animal. The indirect object (underlined) receives or is affected by the direct object (in bold). An indirect object always needs a direct object with it and always comes before the direct object:
She gave the dogits dinner.
Do I owe yousome money?
We can often rephrase such sentences with a prepositional phrase using to or for + the recipient. In this case, the direct object usually comes first.
indirect + direct object
direct object + prepositional phrase with to/for
He always gives the classtoo much homework.
He always gives too much homeworkto the class.
I never buy herflowers. She’s allergic to them.
I never buy flowersfor her. She’s allergic to them.
Here are some verbs that often take an indirect object + direct object or a prepositional phrase with to:
Here are some verbs that often take an indirect object + direct object or a prepositional phrase with for:
Verbs and objects
Some verbs (often called transitive verbs) need an object to complete their meaning. Some verbs (often called intransitive verbs) do not take an object. Some verbs need both a direct object and an indirect object. Some verbs can take a wh-clause or a that-clause as an object.
Some examples of verbs and objects:
verb + object
We really enjoyed the evening. Thanks.
verb + no object
Paula smiled and left.
verb + two objects
They gave uscoffee.
verb + wh-clause
I can’t believe what he told me.
verb + that-clause
I know (that) you’re telling the truth.
Many phrasal verbs (underlined below) take an object:
We won’t give outyour email address to other companies.
They’ve putthe price of fuelup again.
All prepositional verbs (underlined below) take an object after the preposition:
I don’t listen tothe radio much.
It depends ontheweather.
No objects with linking verbs
We don’t use objects with linking verbs (appear, be, become, look, seem, etc.). We use adjective phrases, noun phrases, adverb phrases or prepositional phrases as subject complements (underlined below), to give more information about the subject: