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Definition and Examples of Object

An object is a noun or pronoun related to a verb or a preposition. It is the receiver or goal of the action of the verb and tells where the action is directed. — Mathew B. Christensen

An object may be defined as a part of a clauseOpens in new window or sentenceOpens in new window which normally follows the main verb and corresponds to the subject of a passive clause or sentence.

So, an object always follows the main verb to complete the verb’s meaning.

In terms of meaning, the object is usually identified with the person, thing, etc. that is the sufferer of the action described by the verb. In other words, the entity that is acted upon by the subject.

  • The ball-boy threw the ball. (the ball is the object.)
  • The ball was thrown by the ball boy (the ball is the subject of the passive)

More than One Object

Sometimes the main verb of a sentence can take more than one object, resulting in more than one object in the sentence. When there are two objects, one is called the direct objectOpens in new window and the other is called the indirect objectOpens in new window.

The direct object is the person or thing that receives the action of the verb.

  • The ball-boy threw the ball.
    (In this sentence, the direct object is the ball because it receives the action described by the verb threw.)
Observe carefully this sentence:
  • The ball boy threw the ball to the player. (Here the verb threw has two objects. There is both a direct object [the ball] and an indirect object [the player].)

An indirect object Opens in new window can be described as the person or thing that is secondarily affected by the action of the verb.

When the indirect object follows the direct object, it is usually preceded by to as in our sentence above, to the player. Sometimes the indirect object is preceded by for, as Morpheus collected the books for me. Basically, to or for can help introduce the indirect object in a sentence.

Observe carefully the chart below:

SubjectVerbDirect ObjectIndirect Object with to
Johnreadsstory booksto children
Lola and Tobyare givinggiftto the charity
Yousentflowers and greetingsto your friends

In some constructions, the indirect object is placed before the direct object. In this case, we drop to or for before the indirect object.

SubjectVerbIndirect Object Without toDirect Object
Johnreadschildrenstory books
Lola and Tobyare givingthe charitygift
Yousentyour friendsflowers and greetings

The structural hint to or for ONLY signals an indirect object when the indirect object follows the direct object. When the indirect object precedes the direct object, we CANNOT use to or for as a sign. In such cases, we must depend on word order and semantic meaning to understand which noun phrase is the indirect object and which is the direct object.

Thoughts and Observations

  1. Not all verbs are followed by objects.

    Consider the verbs in the sentences below:
    • The guest speaker rose from her chair to protest.
    • After work, Pickford usually jogs around the field.
  2. If the object is a personal pronounOpens in new window, the objective caseOpens in new window: me, him, her, us, them, as appropriate, is required.

  3. An object can also be a nominal clause.

    Examples include:
    • Everyone knows that mercury is a metal.
    • People rarely believe what she says.
  1. An object can occur in form of a noun phraseOpens in new window.

    Examples include:
    • Gretchen reads best–selling books.
    • Henry is visiting the Lagos museum today.
  2. A useful way to identify an object is to consider it as an answer to a question with What or Who(m) is Henry visiting today? The answer, according to the sentence above is the Lagos museum.

  3. In contrast to the object, is the subject. Whereas the subjectOpens in new window typically represents the doer, the object typically represents the doee.

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