Direct and indirect object
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Direct and indirect object exercises
Examples and grammar rules
In the English language verbs with two objects are followed by two different types of objects. Let's have a look at the following examples.
I sent Mary some flowers.
I sent some flowers to Mary.
These two sentences contain both kinds of objects. Flowers are the direct object. It refers to what I sent. Mary is the indirect object. It refers to whom I sent it.
As you can see, the word order in these two sentences is different - Mary and flowers can be placed first or second in each of these examples.
The changeable word order in English sentences
1. If the indirect object comes first in a sentence, there is no preposition.
They gave Harold a new car.
Mrs. Jones offered the girls a cake.
My grandma always wishes me a good luck.
2. If it comes second, a preposition must be used.
They gave a new car to Harold.
Mrs Jones offered a cake to the girls.
My grandma always wishes a good luck to me.
3. If the direct object is a pronoun (it, this ... ), it comes first and we must use a preposition. Compare the difference in the following examples.
I bought it for my sister.
Can you send it to him?
I'll get it for you as soon as I can.
(Not: I bought my sister it. Can you send him it? I'll get you it as soon as I can.)
1. If the verbs read and write are only followed by the indirect object, a preposition must be used.
Please, read to me. (Not: Please, read me).
You must write to your parents next weekend.) (Not: You must write your parents next weekend.)
The following examples, however, will show the possible positions of two different objects that are used after the verbs read and write.
Read me the letter. Read the letter to me.
You must write your parents an e-mail. You must write an e-mail to your parents.
2. We can use the verbs promise, show, and tell with the indirect object only, but without a preposition. Compare the examples:
I can't promise you. (Or: I can't promise it to you.)
Show him. (Or: Show it to him.)
Can you tell me? (But remember: Can you say it to me? After the verb say we must use the pronoun and preposition in the English language.)
3. See also how we use the direct and indirect objects in the passive voice.