Direct and Indirect Objects

A direct object is the object in which the verb is acting on. For example, in the sentence “He sold his car,” “car” is a direct object. An indirect object is the recipient of the direct object, as in “The man gave his wife a necklace.” “Necklace” is the direct object, and “wife” is the indirect object.

Direct and Indirect Objects

Direct and indirect objects play important roles in sentences, so it’s important that you can identify them. First, let’s take a look at direct objects. Direct objects are the receiver of the action of a sentence. The verb is telling what’s going on, and the direct object is telling who that action is occurring to.

Take a look at this sentence to see what I mean. “He sold his car.” The verb right here is “sold”. What is being sold in this sentence? The car is being sold. I’m going to write “D.O.” above it, because it’s called a direct object. D.O. stands for direct object. “He’s sold his car.” “Car” is the direct object.

Look at this sentence: “He washed clothes.” “Washed” is the verb. “He” is the subject. What is he washing? He is washing clothes. The clothes are being washed. We’re going to write “D.O.”, because that’s the direct object.

An indirect object is exactly what it sounds like. It’s indirect. Here in this sentence, it says, “The man gave his wife a necklace.” The direct object here is “necklace”, because that’s what’s being given. “Man” is the subject. “Gave” is the verb. The man gave what? The man gave a necklace. That’s the direct object. What about his wife? The man didn’t give his wife, so “wife” can’t be the direct object. Instead, “wife” is the indirect object. Why? Because the wife is receiving the necklace from her husband.

Look at this sentence. “The sun gave my skin a sunburn.” What are the direct and indirect objects here? The direct object can’t be my “skin”, because the sun isn’t giving my skin. The sun is giving a sunburn, so “sunburn” is the direct object. This indirect object here is “skin”, so I’m going to write “I.O.” The sun is giving a sunburn.

You can ask the first question: What is the sun giving? The sun is giving a sunburn. That’s the direct object. Then you could ask the question: Who is the sun giving a sunburn to? The indirect object would be “skin”, because it’s giving a sunburn to my skin.

The important thing to remember is that the direct object is the action receiver in the sentence. The indirect object is, like I said, indirect. Just keep asking questions. “The man gave.” What did the man give? He gave a necklace. Who did he give the necklace to? His wife.


Return to Parts of a Sentence Videos



by Mometrix Test Preparation | This Page Last Updated: February 18, 2022