An object in a sentence is a word or words that complete the meaning of a sentence. It is involved in the action but does not carry it out. The object is the person or thing affected by the action described in the verb. It is always a noun or a pronoun and it always comes after the verb.
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The man climbed a tree.
Some verbs complete the meaning of sentences without the help of other words.
The action that they describe is complete.
The temperature rose.
Some other verbs do not express a complete meaning by themselves.
They need to combine with other words to complete the meaning of a sentence.
Christine saw the snake.
Rose wears goggles.
He opened the door.
In the above examples, the snake, goggles and the door are the objects as they are the things being affected by the verbs in the sentences.
(Refer to the topic on Transitive and Intransitive Verbs under the main topic VERBS).
Which groups of words are sentences and which ones are sentence fragments?
- A huge storm was coming.
- Behind the wattle tree.
- After the earthquake.
- The wind broke several houses.
- Surprised by a loud noise.
- Winds of high speed.
- Rescue workers arrived.
- From different parts of the world.
- Many people were injured.
- In the weeks after the earthquake.
- A huge storm was coming. – sentence
- Behind the wattle tree – sentence fragment
- After the earthquake – sentence fragment
- The wind broke several houses.– sentence
- Surprised by a loud noise – sentence fragment
- Winds of high speed – sentence fragment
- Rescue workers arrived. – sentence
- From different parts of the world – sentence fragment
- Many people were injured. – sentence
- In the weeks after the earthquake – sentence fragment
Direct and indirect objects
Objects come in two types, direct and Indirect:
The direct object is the word that receives the action of a verb.
Christine saw a snake. (a snake receives the action of saw)
Rose wears goggles. (goggles receives the action of wears)
Sometimes the direct object tells the result of an action.
Tecla won the race.
She received a trophy.
To find the direct object, first find the verb.
Then ask whom or what after the verb.
Christine saw a snake.
Rose wears goggles
Verb: saw verb: wears
Saw what? a snake wears what? goggles
Tecla won the race She received a trophy
Verb: won Verb: received
Won what? the race received what? a trophy
Remember, we said earlier that a verb that has a direct object is called a transitive verb and a verb that does not have an object is called an intransitive verb.
We also said that a verb may be intransitive in one sentence and transitive in another.
Other verbs are strictly intransitive like disagree.
The indirect object refers to a person or thing who receives the direct object.
They tell us for whom or to whom something is done.
Others tell to what or for what something is done.
I gave him the book.
He is the indirect object as he is the beneficiary of the book.
Direct object or adverb?
Direct objects are sometimes confused with adverbs.
The direct object tells what or whom as we have seen earlier.
Adverbs on the other hand tell how, where, when or to what extent.
They modify the verbs.
Brian Swam slowly. (slowly is an adverb telling how)
Brian Swam a tough race. (race is a direct object telling what).
Verbs can also be followed by a phrase that tells how, when, or where.
This kind of a phrase is never a direct object but an adverbial phrase.
Brian swam across the pool. (a cross the pool tells where Brian Swam).
Therefore, to decide whether a word or a phrase is a direct object or adverb, decide first what it tells about the verb.
If it tells how, where, when or to what extent, it is an adverb.
If it tells what or whom, it is a direct object.
Identify the objects or the adverbs/adverbial phrases in the following sentences.
If the sentence has two objects, indicate the direct object and the indirect object.
- Nanu sings pop music.
- Nanu sings sweetly.
- He spoke very quietly.
- I have read that book three times.
- She has gone to the bank.
- David gave her a present.
- David disagreed bitterly.
- The player sat on his heels.
- She made a list of the items to buy.
- They offered him help.
- Pop music – object
- Sweetly – adverb
- Very quietly – adverbial phrase
- That book – object, three times – adverbial phrase
- to the bank- adverbial phrase
- Her – indirect object, a present – direct object
- Bitterly – adverb
- On his heels – adverbial phrase
- A list of the items to buy – object
- Help – object