Object (grammar)

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The word 'Object' (pronounced with the stress on the first syllable, 'OB-ject', IPA: /'ɒb dʒɛkt (or dʒɪkt)/ (see also Object (pronunciation)) is used in the study of grammar to label words or phrases performing several different functions. (Many modern grammarians prefer to use the terminology complement - ~ 'that which completes' - as a label for this, subdividing this into Complement Object Direct, prepositional complement etc.)

  • The commonest use of the word Object in grammar relates to verbs. Verbs can take two forms of Objects: the Direct Object, which is used with transitive verbs (the definition of an intransitive verb is that it does not take a Direct Object); and an Indirect Object.
(A third relates to prepositions. The Prepositional Complement )
The first two of these Objects normally follow verbs (other word orders are possible, as in 'He saw, through a haze of mist and drizzle, a light').
    • The Direct Object (the modern approach calls it COd or Complement Object direct) is the 'thing' (or person or place, etc) on which the action of the (transitive) verb is performed, for example 'I love you'; 'The car hit the tree';'She sang her song well'; and 'He kissed his mother', etc. In the foregoing examples, the Objects are simple, but they can be longer, such as 'the letter said that he was well' and such lengthy noun clauses as 'Christians believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the only begotten son of God the Father, with whom he shares the tripartite nature of God.'.
    • The Indirect Object (or COi, Complement Object indirect) is the person (or thing etc) for whom (or which) or to whom (or which) the action of the verb is performed. 'I told him to stop; 'Send her my love'; 'I sent a birthday card to my brother'; 'It was for him that I bought it'; 'He gave her the book'; 'She waved her mother goodbye'
In 'I gave my first pay packet to my mother', traditional grammar regards to my mother as an indirect object, it being semantically equivalent to her ('I gave her my first pay packet'), but many modern grammarians reject this nomenclature, classifying to my mother as a prepositional complement. Beware that prepositional phrases may also be adverbials and complements as well as indirect objects