Indirect Objects In English (With Examples)

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Indirect objects are an essential component of English grammar. They add detail to the sentence by specifying to whom or for whom an action is performed. If you’re learning English, understanding how to use indirect objects in English can take your writing and speaking to the next level. In this article, we’ll explore what indirect objects are, how they function in a sentence, and provide examples of how to use them effectively.

Indirect Objects in English

What are Indirect Objects?

An indirect object is a noun or pronoun that receives the action of a verb directly. The indirect object comes after the verb and before the direct object, and usually answers the question, “To whom?” or “For whom?”

Consider the following sentence:

  • John gave his sister a book.

In this sentence, the verb is “gave,” and the How to Identify Indirect Objects

To identify an indirect object, you need to follow a few steps:

  1. Identify the verb in the sentence.
  2. Ask yourself, “What did the subject of the sentence do?” The answer to this question is the direct object.
  3. Ask yourself, “To whom?” or “For whom?” The answer to this question is the indirect object.

Let’s look at the following example:

  • My mother sent me a birthday card.

The verb in this sentence is “sent.” The subject is “my mother.” The direct object is “birthday card,” and the indirect object is “me.

Using Indirect Objects

Indirect objects can be examples of how to use indirect objects in sentences:

  • The company donated money to the charity.
  • She baked a cake for her friend’s birthday.
  • They offered me a job at the new company.

In each of these examples, the indirect object adds more detail to the sentence and helps to clarify who the recipient of the action is.

Indirect Object Pronouns

In English, indirect object pronouns are used to replace the noun that functions as the indirect object. This is similar to how direct object pronouns replace the direct object in a sentence.

Here are the indirect object pronouns in English:

  • me
  • you
  • him/her/it
  • us
  • them

Here’s an example of using an indirect object pronoun:

  • My sister gave me a present.
  • My sister gave it to me.

In the second sentence, the indirect object pronoun “it” replaces the direct object “present,” and the indirect object pronoun “me” replaces the indirect object “me.

Indirect Objects with Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal phrasal verbs, the indirect object can come before or after the particle, depending on the verb.

For example:

  • He turned in his homework to the teacher.

In this sentence, the indirect object “the teacher” comes after the particle “in.”

But in the following sentence, the indirect object “his brother” comes before the particle “up”:

  • He gave up his seat to his brother.

Verbs That Can Take Indirect Objects

Many examples of using these verbs with indirect objects:

  • He gave the keys to his roommate.
  • She offered her help to the new employee.
  • They lent money to their friend.
  • I sent a message to my coworker.
  • The teacher showed the students the new material.
  • He told me a funny story.
  • She taught the children how to play the piano.
  • He threw the ball to his dog.

Indirect Objects vs. Prepositional Phrases

Sometimes, it can be difficult to determine whether a noun is functioning as an indirect object or as part of a prepositional phrase. Prepositional phrases are groups of words that begin with a preposition (such as “to,” “from,” or “by”) and end with a noun or pronoun.

Consider the following example:

  • The company donated money to the charity.

In this sentence, “the charity” could be interpreted as either the indirect object or part of a prepositional phrase. To determine which it is, ask yourself whether the noun is receiving the action of the verb directly or indirectly. In this case, the money is being donated to the charity indirectly, so “the charity” is the indirect object.

Here’s another example:

  • She baked a cake for her friend’s birthday.

In this sentence, “her friend’s birthday” is part of a prepositional phrase, since it is not receiving the action of the verb directly.

Common Errors with Indirect Objects

Here are some common errors to avoid when using indirect objects:

Forgetting to include the indirect object

In some cases, the indirect object can be implied, but it’s important to include it for clarity. For example:

  • I gave my sister a book. (Correct)
  • I gave a book. (Incorrect)

Confusing indirect and direct objects

Make sure you’re clear on which noun is the direct object and which is the indirect object. In some cases, the same noun can be used as both. For example:

  • She gave her sister the book. (Direct object: “book,” indirect object: “sister”)
  • She gave the book to her sister. (Direct object: “sister,” indirect object: “book”)

Using the wrong pronoun

Make sure you’re using the correct indirect object pronoun to replace the noun. For example:

  • She gave the tickets to my friend and I. (Incorrect)
  • She gave the tickets to my friend and me. (Correct)

Advantages of Using Indirect Objects

Using indirect objects in your writing and speaking can have several advantages, including:

Adding detail and specificity

Including an indirect object in a sentence can add more detail and help to clarify who the recipient of the action is.

Varying sentence structure

Using indirect objects can help you vary the structure of your sentences, which can make your writing more interesting and engaging to read.

Conveying tone and emotion

Using indirect objects can also help you convey tone and emotion in your writing. For example, using an indirect object in a sentence can make it sound more polite or formal.


Indirect objects are an important component of English grammar that add detail and specificity to sentences. By understanding how to identify and use indirect objects, you can take your writing and speaking to the next level. Remember to keep an eye out for common errors, and to use indirect objects when you want to add detail, vary sentence structure, or convey tone and emotion.

Frequently Asked Questions about Indirect Objects in English (with Examples)

  1. What is an indirect object in English?

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