Nouns: Indirect Object

The indirect object is the noun or pronoun that receives the direct object.

Typically, an indirect object precedes the direct object and can be found by asking who or what received the direct object.

[In the following examples, the indirect object is bold and the direct object is underlined.]

If you would like, we can give Martha the tickets to tonight’s game.

  • To determine the indirect object, ask who or what received the direct object.

Emil sent his brother a postcard from the hotel.

  • Emil did not send his brother. He sent a postcard to his brother. The noun receiving the direct object is the indirect object.

Did the students give their teacher the assignment?

  • Look for the object that receives the action of the verb and then who or what receives that object.

After class, Randall will give the students their papers.

  • Once you identify the verb, ask whether the verb was done to someone or something. For example: Will Randall give someone or something? Yes, he will give papers. To whom will he give them? Students. Students is the indirect object.

Can you write the clerk a check for the groceries?

  • Identify the subject, find the verb the subject is engaged in, determine if it is an action verb, ask who or what is receiving the action and then ask who or what is receiving that object.

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  1. Kendall says

    In the sentence after his speech the candidate answered questions from the media would questions be a indirect object??

  2. KaraThrace says

    The candidate (S) answered (V) questions (DO).

    The candidate (S) gave (V) answers (DO) to the media (IDO).

  3. Andy Jewell says

    How do I distinguish the indirect object from the object of the preposition?

    In “I threw the ball to the boy”, “to the boy” looks like a prepositional phrase, yet boy receives the ball. How do I know which thing to call it?

  4. Tito Jack says

    Indirect objects can be replaced by prepositional phrases. If there’s a prepositional phrase for the receiver of the action, there’s no indirect object.

    A prepositional phrase can go anywhere in the sentence (grammatically if not always stylishly). An indirect object has to go before the direct object, and has no preposition in front of it. It can be modified by an adjective, of course.

    So the usage in “The candidate (S) gave (V) answers (DO) to the media (IDO)” is not marked correctly. There is no indirect object. If you want one, you have to say, “The candidate (S) gave (V) the media (IDO) answers (DO).”

    If this seems like a difference without a distinction, think about what else you would call “the media.” It’s not the object of a preposition; it’s not the subject or the direct object. It has to be something…

  5. tas says

    ‘the candidate= subject, gave=verb, answers=object, to the media=indirect object’

    the direct object is answered by ‘what’, while the indirect object is answered by ‘to whom, or for whom’ so doesn’t that make it an indirect object? and if not what would it be?a prepositional phrase?

  6. says

    Tito Jack is correct. An object of the preposition (media) cannot be an indirect object.
    The “formula” is a noun/pronoun (subject) acts (verb) on a noun (direct object) transferring it to a noun/pronoun (indirect object)
    ex: The dog (subject) brought (verb) its owner (indirect object) the ball (direct object)
    My father (subject) gives (verb) his grandchildren (indirect object) bear hugs (direct object)
    He (subject) handed (verb) the police officer (indirect object) his keys (direct object)
    On the other hand:
    The officer (subject) gave (verb) a ticket (indirect object) to the protester. (prepositional phrase so protester is NOT an indirect object)

  7. Miasako says

    Dear TheTongueUntied,

    How would I turn a sentence into a indirect object? I’m confused on some homework and I can’t figure out how to turn a prepositional phrase into a indirect object.
    Can you please explain?

    Thank you~

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