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Subjects and Objects

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The relationship between subjects and verbs and objects can be quite complex. Here we are looking at the relationship between verbs with a subject and a direct object, and verbs with an indirect object.

There are some verbs in English which describe an action or an event that only have a connection with the person or thing. This is what the subject is.
I woke up late.
The party was great.
He arrived early.

Subject Verb Indirect Object Direct Object
I gave Chris a pen
John bought his son a new car
I showed him the photo
  Tell us the whole story

However a verb can involve a second person or thing which the verb affects or produces. This is the direct object.
He cooked pasta.
I love chocolate.
I saw him.

Some verbs do not involve the direct object but are related to it in some way.
He speaks English well.
We had a great time.

There are some verbs which can also involve a third person or thing. Generally this is someone who is affected by the thing or receives something because of this. This is the indirect object.
I gave Chris a pen
John bought his son a new car.
I showed him the photo.
Tell us the whole story.

Order of object and direct object

If a sentence or clause (part of a sentence) has more than one object; an object and indirect object then we usually place the indirect object before the direct object right after the verb.

It is useful to think of the indirect object as the part of the sentence linked to the verb. That is why it is placed closest to it.

I gave Chris a pen.
I gave a pen Chris.

Some verbs can be used with a direct object or with a direct and indirect object but when you use an indirect object the position of the direct object needs to be changed.
John bought a car.
John bought his son a car.

John bought a car his son.

We look at indirect objects and prepositional phrases in the next lesson.

Lesson by Tristan, teacher at EC Malta English school

Subjects and Ojects 2

Subjects and Ojects 3

Now look at these pairs of sentences and decide which is correct:

  • 1 - Which is correct?

  • 2 - Which is correct?

  • 3 - Which is correct?

  • 4 - Which is correct?

  • 5 - Which is correct?