Direct and Indirect Object

What is an object?

An object in grammar is a part of a sentence, and often part of the predicate. It refers to someone or something involved in the subject's "performance" of the verb. It is what the verb is being done to. As an example, the following sentence is given:

Subject Verb Object
Leila wrote the poem
  • "Leila" is the subject, the doer or performer,
  • "wrote" is a verb that refers to the action,
  • "the poem" is the object involved in the action.

Transitive and intransitive verbs

A verb can be classified as transitive or intransitive according to whether it takes or doesn't take an object:

  • If a verb takes objects, then it is a transitive verb.
    They played soccer. → (The verb play takes ONE object 'soccer')
    They sent him a postcard. → (The verb send takes TWO objects 'him' and 'a postcard')
  • If a verb doesn't take an object, then it is an intransitive verb.
    She lies. → (The verb 'lie' doesn't take any object)
    The building collapsed. → (The verb 'collapse' doesn't take any object)

Types of objects

There are two types of objects: direct and indirect objects:

Direct object

A direct object answers the question "what?" or "whom?"


  • David repaired his car his car is the direct object of the verb repaired. ( What did David repair?)
  • He invited Mary to the party Mary is the direct object of the verb invited. (Whom did he invite?)

Indirect Object

An indirect object answers the question "to whom?", "for whom?", "for what?"...

An indirect object is the recipient of the direct object, or an otherwise affected participant in the event. There must be a direct object for an indirect object to be placed in a sentence. In other words an indirect object cannot exist without a direct object.


  • They sent him a postcard - him is the indirect object of the verb sent. (To whom did they send a postcard?)
  • He bought his son a bike - his son is the indirect object of the verb bought. (For whom did he buy a bike?)

You may also be interested in:

Exercise on Direct and Indirect Object
Parts of speech
Direct and indirect objects