Indirect Object (definition)

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An 'indirect object' (also referred to as 'secondary object') appears in the environment of a ditransitive verb, where the 'indirect object' is the first noun phrase after the verb (when there are two NPs) or an obligatory prepositional phrase . Indirect objects typically express goals and locations for verbs that define a caused change or location or movement, or express a benefactor. For example, the in the following sentences the indirect object is bold faced.

  1. Tako gave Zelda the cake
  2. Tako gave the cake to Zelda
  3. Calvin put it on the dresser
  4. Dave bought Melissa the flowers
  5. Dave bought the flowers for Melissa

Interestingly in Scottish Gaelic,the sentence types in (1) and (5), where the 'indirect object' precedes the direct object is not grammatical as in (6). Instead, the 'indirect object' must appear after the direct object and must be contained in a prepositional phrase as in (7).


*Thug Morag Bill leabhar
give.Pst Morag Bill a book
'Morag gave Bill a book.'


Thug Morag leabhar do Bhill
give.Pst Morag a book to Bill
'Morag gave a book to Bill.'

See Also

Valence (definition) Double Object Constructions (definition)

External Links