Sunday, January 16, 2011

Direct objects and indirect objects vs subjective complements

This is the latest post in a series I'm doing on grammar. These posts are based on what I'm learning in Grammar By Diagram: Understanding english Grammar Through Traditional Sentence Diagraming by Cindy L. Vitto.


A subjective complement:
  • Appears only after a state of being or linking verb in a sentence.
  • Is related to the subject of the sentence. 
  • Either describes the subject or renames the subject.
A direct object:
  • Appears only after an action verb in a sentence.
  • Is not related to the subject of the sentence.
  • Answers the question "who" or "what."
An indirect object:
  • Is the receiver of a direct object. Something must be given to an indirect object.
  • Can be a replacement for a prepositional phrase. A sentence containing an indirect object can be rewritten to place the indirect object within a prepositional phrase, usually with the preposition "to" or "for."
A sample sentence with direct and indirect objects:
Steve gave his wife a wedding ring.
Subject = Steve
Verb = gave
Direct object = ring (gave what?)
Indirect object = wife (to who?)
Determiner (possessive pronoun) = his
Adjective = wedding
Determiner (article) = a

Here is the same sentence with the indirect object within a prepositional phrase:
Steve gave a wedding ring to his wife.

Subject = Steve
Verb = gave
Direct object = ring
Indirect object (and object of preposition) = wife
Determiner (possessive pronoun) = his
Adjective = wedding
Determiner (article) = a


A reflexive pronoun is a direct object only when it follows an action verb. If a reflexive pronoun follows a state of being or linking verb, it is likely a subjective complement.


Steve patted himself on the back.
Subject = Steve
Verb = patted (action verb)
Direct object (reflexive pronoun) = himself
Prepositional phrase (adverb) = on the back
Object of preposition = back

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