Difference Between Direct Objects and Indirect Objects

Direct Objects vs Indirect Objects
 

The difference between direct objects and indirect objects is in the functions of each category. A sentence in English is made up of both object and the subject. ‘I hit the ball’ is a sentence where it can be seen clearly that ‘I’ is the subject while ‘ball’ is the object. In this sentence, hit is the verb that governs the object (ball). Now there are two different types of objects called the direct object and the indirect object. This article attempts to find out the differences between direct object and indirect object. Let us find out more about each term first.

What is a Direct Object?

A direct object is always governed by the action of the verb and receives the action of the verb. The direct object is a noun or a pronoun. Direct objects are very easy to identify. You simply have to find the subject and the verb of the sentence and then you have to ask the question who or what. Look at the following examples.

Roy saw a cat.

They found a house on that lonely hill.

In both of the sentences given above, we can see direct objects. In the first sentence, the subject is ‘Roy.’ The verb is ‘saw.’ So, then we ask the question Roy saw what? We get a clear answer as a cat. ‘Cat’ is the direct object in this sentence; it is a noun, as well as it is clearly subjected to the action of the verb. In the second sentence, ‘they’ is the subject. Then, ‘found’ is the verb. Now, the question is they found what? The answer is a house. So, in the second sentence, the direct object is ‘house.’

Difference Between Direct Objects and Indirect Objects

‘Roy saw a cat’  Direct Object = Cat

What is an Indirect Object?

An indirect object is the receiver of the direct object. Just like the direct object receiving the action of the verb, the indirect object receives what is meant by the direct object. Indirect object tells the relationship with the direct object in the sentence. It is a noun or a pronoun just like a direct object. Take a look at the following sentence to understand the difference. You can find the indirect object by asking the questions for whom, for what, etc. depending on the situation.

John gave Lily a gold ring.

In this sentence, ‘John’ is the subject while ‘gold ring’ is the direct object. Gold ring is the direct object because it is what the verb implies. This gold ring is given by John to whom? It is given to Lily who happens to be the indirect object. Thus, it is clear that the indirect object is someone who receives the direct object from the subject of the sentence. The direct object is the thing that is given by the subject to the indirect object. Here is another example.

He gave me a basket of flowers.

In this sentence, we can easily identify the basket of flowers as the direct object. Then, he gave the basket of flowers to whom? To me. So, in this sentence, the indirect object is the pronoun me.

If a sentence has two objects, it is pretty clear that one person does some action while the other object is the indirect one who gets something because of the action of the subject.

Direct Objects vs Indirect Objects

‘John gave Lily a gold ring’   Indirect Object = gold ring

What is the difference between Direct Objects and Indirect Objects?

• Definitions of Direct Objects and Indirect Objects:

• Direct objects are nouns or pronouns that are governed by the action of the verb and receive the action of the verb.

• Indirect objects are nouns and pronouns that are receivers of direct objects.

• Connection:

• Without a direct object, an indirect object cannot appear in a sentence.

• A direct object does not depend on an indirect object.

• Identifying Direct Objects and Indirect Objects:

• If you are looking to find the direct object and indirect object in a sentence, look for a noun or pronoun that receives the action of the subject. This is the direct object.

• The person who receives this direct object is the indirect object in the sentence.

• Questions Asked to Identify Direct and Indirect Objects:

• To identify the direct object ask the questions who or what.

• To identify the indirect objects ask the question for whom, for what, etc. depending on the situation.

These are the differences between direct objects and indirect objects. As you can see, it is not very hard to identify one from the other.

 

Images Courtesy:

  1. Tortoiseshell she-cat via Wikicommons (Public Domain)
  2. Gold banded engagement ring by Ram-Man (CC BY-SA 2.5)