Object (grammar)

grammatical term; entity that is acted upon by the subject. There is thus a primary distinction between subjects and objects that is understood in terms of the action expressed by the verb

An object in grammar is the target of an action, and occurs in any sentence with a transitive verb. It is an element in the clause which follows the verb, as in:

The cat ate breakfast.
She hit him and then said go away from here

These are direct objects. The following are indirect objects:

The dog brought Jane his lead.
I sent my son a letter.

The structure of these sentences is (S/V/O/O) where S = subject, V = verb and O = object. The first object is an indirect object, the second is a direct object. Notice that, in the last example, you sent a letter, not your son. The sentence makes perfect sense without the indirect object.

An equivalent sentence to the last example is:

I sent a letter to my son.

Here some grammarians also see son as the indirect object (letter is the term which cannot be left out).[1]p720


  1. McArthur, Tom (ed) 1992. The Oxford companion to the English language. Oxford University Press.