# Nouns As Different Roles in a Sentence

Nouns are some of the most common building blocks that we use to create sentences, whether we’re writing an essay, jotting down notes, or just talking to a friend. One of the reasons that nouns are so useful is that they can take on several different roles in a sentence, allowing you to create complex sentences with multiple pieces of information.

To begin, let’s remind ourselves what a noun actually is. Nouns are words that name a person, place, thing, or idea. For example, brother and Jackson are people, school and Pinedale Street are places, table and dog are things, and patience and energy are ideas, so all of these words are nouns!

Person
brother, Jackson
Place
School, Pinedale Street
Thing
table, dog
Idea
patience, energy

Now, let’s take a look at three of the main roles that nouns can take within a sentence: subject, object, and complement.

### Subject

The subject of a sentence is the person, place, thing, or idea that is performing the action of the sentence. Here’s an example of a sentence that uses a noun as the subject:

“Mallory tried rock-climbing for the first time last week.”

We know that the word Mallory is a noun because it names a person, and we know it’s the subject of this sentence because it is performing the action, tried.

Here’s another example:

“The dog and the squirrel chased after each other all morning.”

In this case, we’re dealing with a compound subject, which means two nouns are acting as the subject. Since the dog and the squirrel are both doing the chasing, dog and squirrel are the nouns that make up the compound subject of this sentence.

### Object

Nouns can also be the object in a sentence. There are three different types of objects we’ll be looking at today: direct object, indirect object, and object of the preposition.

#### Direct Object

The direct object of a sentence is the person or thing that the action of the sentence is directed toward. For example, in the sentence “Brayden threw his suitcase into the car,” the noun suitcase would be the direct object because the suitcase is receiving the action of the verb threw. Here’s another example:

“Lea told Mason that his shoes were untied.”

In this case, the noun Mason is the direct object of the sentence because he is the recipient of the action told.

#### Indirect Object

The indirect object of a sentence is the person or thing that receives the direct object. Here’s an example:

“I sold my book to Ivan.”

It will help if we identify the direct object first. In this sentence, the noun that is taking the action is book (the book is being sold). The direct object (book) is being received by the noun Ivan, so Ivan is the indirect object.

Here’s another example:

“She gave Lisa the list of ingredients for the chocolate cake.”

Let’s find the direct object again first. In this sentence, the noun receiving the action is list (the list is being given). The list is being given to Lisa, so Lisa is the indirect object.

#### Object of the Preposition

The object of a preposition is a noun that is referenced by a preposition and combines with it to form a prepositional phrase. Here’s an example:

“The bird flew toward the nearest branch.”

In this sentence, the preposition is toward. The noun branch is what the preposition is referring to; in other words, the branch is what the bird is flying toward. This means that the noun branch is the object of the preposition, which creates the prepositional phrase “toward the nearest branch.”

Here’s another example:

“Grace ran from the room and left her pen on the desk.”

In this sentence, there are two prepositional phrases. The first preposition is from. The noun room is what the preposition is referring to, so room is the object of the preposition, creating the prepositional phrase “from the room.” The second preposition is $$on$$. The noun $$desk$$ is what the preposition is referring to, so $$desk$$ is the object of the preposition, creating the prepositional phrase “on the desk.”

### Complement

Finally, let’s take a look at complements. A complement is a word or phrase that adds additional information to a sentence. This could be a noun, pronoun, or adjective, but we’ll stick to complements that are nouns for this video.

Here’s an example:

“Kendall called Jamie a troublemaker.”

First, let’s quickly go through and label the important parts of speech so we can see what’s going on.

Kendall is the subject, called is the verb, and Jamie is the direct object. Now, let’s take a look at the word troublemaker. This noun is providing extra information that tells us more about Jamie, so it’s taking the role of a complement.

Here’s another example:

“I named my new cat Lucy.”

Once again, let’s quickly label each word.

I is the subject, named is the verb, and cat is the direct object. Just like troublemaker in the previous example, the word Lucy is providing us with extra information that tells us more about the noun cat, so it is a noun that is taking on the role of a complement.

Okay, to wrap things up, let’s go over a few review questions.

1. Which word in the following sentence is the direct object?

“I asked John to check on the puppies before we left.”

1. John
2. Puppies
3. I
4. We

The direct object is the receiver of the action. In this case, John is the person being asked, so John is the direct object. Puppies is the object of the preposition on, I is the subject of the sentence, and we is the subject of the adverbial phrase “before we left.”

2. What part of speech is the word Marcus in the following sentence?

“Chris gave Marcus a red bike for his birthday.”

1. Subject
2. Object of the preposition
3. Direct object
4. Indirect object

The indirect object of a sentence is the person or thing that receives the direct object. In this case, the direct object is bike because the bike is what’s being given. Marcus is the person being given the bike, so Marcus is the indirect object.

3. Which word in the following sentence is a complement?

“Our neighbor’s dog is a poodle.”

1. Poodle
2. Dog
3. Our
4. Neighbor’s

The word poodle is a noun that is providing extra information about –the noun dog, so poodle is a complement. Dog is the subject of the sentence, while our and neighbor’s are both adjectives.

That’s all for this review! Thanks for watching, and happy studying!