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Subjects, direct objects, and indirect objects

A subject is the noun phrase that drives the action of a sentence; in the sentence “Jake ate cereal,” Jake is the subject. The direct object is the thing that the subject acts upon, so in that last sentence, “cereal” is the direct object; it’s the thing Jake ate. An indirect object is an optional part of a sentence; it’s the recipient of an action. In the sentence “Jake gave me some cereal,” the word “me” is the indirect object; I’m the person who got cereal from Jake. 

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  • hopper cool style avatar for user Mrudangi ❤
    Can second sentence be written as "Althea threw a Frisbee at me" ?
    (48 votes)
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    • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user trek
      You could also say that Althea thew a Frisbee towards me. This version is slightly less clear than Althea threw me a Frisbee but is definitely less of a threat than throwing something at someone.
      (88 votes)
  • leaf green style avatar for user Hadeeqa
    Can second sentence be wriiten as "Mia was throwing darts."?
    (19 votes)
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    • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user Polina Vitić
      Yes, that works!
      - Mia threw darts.
      - Mia was throwing darts.

      This would be unclear / incorrect:
      - Mia was throwing me darts.

      And hopefully you wouldn't need to say this:
      - Mia was throwing darts at me / to me.

      But this would work too:
      - Mia threw darts at the dart board.
      - Mia was throwing darts at the dart board.

      Hope this helps!
      (36 votes)
  • piceratops sapling style avatar for user Nick Winters
    So, as far as I understand...

    For example.

    Althea threw me a frisbee.

    -> An object is a thing that is acted upon.

    -> Althea acts upon frisbee and me

    -> Which one is direct, and which one is indirect?

    -> Just rephrase as <object> has been <action>

    -> Frisbee has been thrown (works fine)

    -> me has been... thrown? thrown a frisbee? (doesn't work)

    See how it doesn't work with me? Not only it is not gramatically correct, but there is a temptation to use the actual direct object, which is frisbee

    Wanda gave Loui a giftcard

    -> a giftcard has been given (normal sentence, nothing unusual)

    -> Loui has been given a giftcard (doesn't work without the giftcard, so even though the sentence makes sense, it has to utilize two objects)

    So, in a sense, you could say that the indirect object is dependent on the direct one to derive a meaningful sentence like this
    (22 votes)
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  • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user 24alanzi
    So, nothing can be in front of the subject?
    (14 votes)
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    • piceratops sapling style avatar for user is
      "Thank you, Rory, for sending me the gift card!" is an example of when the subject, Rory is behind the phrase Thank you. This is just my take on it and I'm not that good with grammar.
      (17 votes)
  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Google Classroom
    Does the indirect object ALWAYS at the middle of the sentence?
    (14 votes)
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    • blobby green style avatar for user Christy Drake
      "to Rory" is a prepositional phrase, so "Rory" is not technically the indirect object - though it means the same thing.
      I tell my students to mark all prepositional phrases and ignore them. They are never the main components of a sentence (subj/verb/DO/IO/PN)
      (8 votes)
  • piceratops seed style avatar for user Elizabeth
    That's a really crystal explanation. Thanks! But I still have a question. Are there any direct object and indirect object in the following sentence? "Often they visit the Great Pyramids of Giza first."
    (7 votes)
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    • orange juice squid orange style avatar for user Granttwin
      I'm just going to digest that sentence out loud:
      1. The subject is the pronoun they
      2. The verb is visit
      3. Often and first describe when/how, so they are adverbs

      4. A good question to ask is They visit what? The answer is the Great Pyramids of Giza
      Therefore, Great Pyramids [of Giza] is the direct object

      To find the indirect object, you can ask Who or what is receiving the [verb]

      Hope these tips can help you find how to identify indirect and direct objects!!
      (17 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user Sonal Padaya
    Is this correct?
    This / is my uncle.
    Subject Predicate
    (8 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user mahe0023
    Hi, in the last sentence, "Wanda gave a gift card to Louie," I'm wondering WHY and HOW the prep phrase "to Louie" is as you said an "adverbial prepositional phrase" which modifies "gave". Is it in some form an adverb which describes the verb gave? I think I'm learning about these in class right now and I just need a little clarification. ALSO, can an indirect object count towards being a prep phrase as well when it is placed correctly after the verb? Thank you.
    (5 votes)
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    • aqualine tree style avatar for user David Alexander
      You are trying to make up complex rules for things that are really simple. This is simple. Wanda (subject) gave (verb) a card (direct object) to Louie (indirect object). The sentence could also read, "Wanda (subject) gave (verb) Louie (indirect object) a card (direct object). It's only the placement of the indirect object at the end of the sentence (rather than immediately after the verb) that makes the word "to" necessary. Forget about adverb and prepositional phrases. It's simply what it is: Subject, verb, Direct object, Indirect object.
      (7 votes)
  • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user Benji Koshy
    what is the indirect object in this sentence?

    jake's phone is charged
    (4 votes)
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    • aqualine tree style avatar for user David Alexander
      Your sample sentence, "Jake's phone is charged." does not contain a direct object or an indirect object, because the verb "to be" (here in the conjugated form, "is") is intransitive and does not take an object. Your sentence comes apart as follows: Jake's phone (subject) is (verb) charged (predicate adjective).
      (6 votes)
  • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user yourmomitron50
    how do you tell the difrence between subject,direct object, and indirect object.

    p.s. the vidio is not working on my chrome book.

    p.s. please answer QUICK
    (4 votes)
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    • aqualine tree style avatar for user David Alexander
      Like you, I use a chromebook, but the videos work just fine on it. Maybe the problem is elsewhere.

      Here is a sentence that has all three items about which you ask.


      She(subject) threw a ball (direct object) to me (indirect object).

      To me, (indirect object) a ball (direct object) she threw.

      A ball (direct object) she (subject) threw to me (indirect object).
      (3 votes)

Video transcript

- [Voiceover] Hello, grammarians. Hello, Rosie. - [Voiceover] Hi, David. - [Voiceover] So, today we're gonna be talking about subject, direct object, and indirect object, and identifying those within a sentence, but first, I suppose we should figure out what those things are. So, we've talked about what subjects are before, but let's review it again really quickly. So, a subject is a noun or a pronoun that performs the verb in a sentence. So, in the sentence, Chris ate cereal, Chris is the subject, because Chris is the noun or pronoun that is performing the verb, ate. Rosie, what is a direct object? - [Voiceover] So, a direct object is the main thing in the sentence that is being acted upon, so in this sentence, Chris ate cereal, cereal would be the direct object, because it's the thing being acted upon, it's being eaten. - [Voiceover] So, every sentence has to have a subject, so subject is critical, but direct objects and indirect objects less so. - [Voiceover] Right. - [Voiceover] So, you know, as a sentence, we could just have "Chris ate", right? - [Voiceover] Right. - [Voiceover] But if we want to bring in this direct object, we can say Chris ate cereal. So, who's doing the eating? Chris. What is the thing that was eaten? Cereal. So, this seems like it would cover most interactions between objects and people, but then we have this other thing, indirect object. What's that about? - [Voiceover] So, an indirect object is often... It's kind of signifying a recipient of something, so it's like another thing in a sentence that might be acted upon. - [Voiceover] So, let's see if we can come up with some examples for that, cause we have this direct object, which is this thing being acted upon, and then the indirect object is also being acted upon, but it's being acted upon in, like, a giving way? Let's see if we can figure this out. Alright, so we have this sentence, straightforward, Althea threw a frisbee. So, we've got subject here, and we've got direct object here. Who's doing the throwing? Althea. What did she throw? A frisbee. But, what if we have the sentence Althea threw me a frisbee? Well, we know from context, because we have the word frisbee in here, that Althea is not hurling me, bodily, right? She's not chucking me across a field for a dog to catch. But we do know that the subject of the sentence is Althea, and we know that the direct object of the sentence is frisbee, but where is that frisbee going? Well, it's going to me. Okay, so we've got this, is the direct object, this is the subject, and this is the indirect object. So, the pronoun, me, is the recipient of the direct object, the frisbee. Rosie, would you read me this sentence, please? - [Voiceover] Wanda gave Louie a gift card. - [Voiceover] That's very nice of her. - [Voiceover] Yeah. - [Voiceover] Okay, so, walk me through this, then. What is going on in this sentence? What are the relationships between the components of this sentence? - [Voiceover] Okay. So, we have two people, and the first person listed is the subject of the sentence, because she's doing an action. - [Voiceover] Right, she's doing the giving. - [Voiceover] Right. Then we have the direct object, which is a gift card. - [Voiceover] Okay, that's the object that she gave. - [Voiceover] Yeah, that's something she's giving. She has a direct relationship with that, but she... The gift card has a recipient, and that's Louie, and he's the indirect object. - [Voiceover] I think another way to identify whether or not a word is the indirect object in a sentence is to see if you can pull it out and stick it on the end of the sentence, as it currently stands, with a preposition, and see if it still makes sense. In this case, to Louie is no longer what we would traditionally consider an indirect object. So, if we've got Wanda gave a gift card to Louie, Wanda is the subject, gift card is the direct object, and then we can see to Louie is now this adverbial prepositional phrase that modifies gave. It's the manner in which she gave it to Louie, and if we switched it out, if we said Wanda gave Louie to gift card, that doesn't make sense at all. So, to review, the subject is the noun or pronoun that performs a verb in a sentence. - [Voiceover] The direct object is the thing that's acted upon. - [Voiceover] And the indirect object is the recipient of that direct object, it's the thing that gets the direct object. In the case of Althea threw me a frisbee, the pronoun me is the indirect object. In the case of Wanda gave Louie a gift card, Louie is the indirect object. He gets the gift card, I get the frisbee. - [Voiceover] Right. - [Voiceover] But, as subjects, direct object, and indirect objects, you can learn anything. David out. - [Voiceover] Rosie out.