What are objects?

The "object" of a sentence is a noun which usually comes after the verb in English. Here are some examples:

I love you.

Did you pay the rent?

The object receives the action of the verb.

Sometimes a sentence doesn't have an object:

I want to rest!

Not many men know how to cook well.

Sometimes there are two objects in a sentence - a direct object and an indirect object. In this sentence, "you" is the direct object and "those flowers" is the idirect object:

Who sent you those flowers?

Why are objects important?

Objects are important because each verb in English has an "expectation" when it comes to objects.

Some verbs expect to have no object. These are called intransitive verbs. Examples include:

  • run
  • sleep
  • cry
  • wait
  • die
  • fall

Other verbs expect to have a direct object or both a direct and indirect object. These are called transitive verbs. Examples include:

  • eat (something)
  • break (something)
  • cut (something)
  • make (something)
  • send (someone)(something)
  • give (someone)(something)

It's important to know whether a verb expects to have an object or not! If you don't know, you'll make mistakes like:

She's crying it.

I broke.

Some verbs are harder to pin down.

The line between transitive and intransitive verbs is not always clear. There are a lot of verbs that are often used both transitively and intransitively, like:

  • eat
  • eat (something)

However, it's usually possible to tell which version is more basic.

Consider the example "eat". You can't eat without eating something. So "eat" is basically a transitive verb which we sometimes use intransitively.

Now think about the verb "send". You can use "send" with just a direct object:

I sent an email.

But "send" really expects two objects: one for the thing that someone sends, and another for the person who receives it:

I sent her an email.

Whenever you learn a new verb in English, pay attention to how it's used in sentences and try to figure out how many objects it "expects" to have.

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