Nouns: Object of the Verbal

Verbals are forms of verbs used as other parts of speech such as nouns, adjectives or adverbs.

In some cases a noun will follow the verbal and “receive” it.  That noun is called the object of the verbal. As with other objects, it can be identified by asking what? or who? about the verbal.

[In the following examples, the object of the verbal is bold and the verbal is underlined.]

  • Running the mile is a requirement for the course.

RUNNING is a verb used as a noun (a gerund) and MILE is the object of that verbal.

  • Most doctors warn their patients to quit smoking.

You can find the object of the verbal by asking the question WHAT? about the verbal. e.g. TO QUIT what? SMOKING. Just to make it a bit more complicated, SMOKING is also a verbal. A gerund.

  • Planning a surprise attack, the children hid behind their baby-sitter’s chair.

The participle PLANNING modifies the subject (CHILDREN); but the object of PLANNING — in other words, the thing “receiving” PLANNING — is the object of the verbal, ATTACK.

  • The contract offered the workers remains unsigned.

CONTRACT is the subject of the sentence and REMAINS is the verb. OFFERED is a participle modifying the subject. WORKERS is the object of that verbal.

Sometimes the object of a verbal may be an entire clause rather than a single word.

[In the following examples, the object of the verbal is bold and the verbal is underlined.]

  • Hoping the child was still alive, the rescue crews dug through the rubble.

The participle HOPING modifies the subject (crews). The object of HOPING (i.e. the thing “receiving” HOPE) is the entire idea: THE CHILD WAS STILL ALIVE.

  • Tamala never stopped to think she might be in danger.

TO THINK is an infinitive. Question: TO THINK WHAT? Answer: She might be in danger.

Not every verbal has an object. Sometimes, verbals are followed by prepositional phrases.

[In the following examples, the verbal is underlined and the prepositional phrase is bold.]

  • Prepared for the worst, the neighbors waited outside of the burning house.

The participle PREPARED modifies the subject (neighbors). Rather than answering the question what, the information following the verbal describes PREPARED. In other words, what kind of prepared was it.

  • Alan, described by most as a “fanatic,” had his entire body tattooed green and gold.

DESCRIBED modifies ALAN. The prepositional phrase tells how or by whom he was described.

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