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Indirect Object

The indirect object of a verb receives the direct object. In effect, the action moves from the subject, through the verb, to the direct object and then the indirect object.

Sue passed Ann the ball. Ann is the indirect object.

Sue passed Ann the ball.

subject verb indirect object direct object
Sue passed Ann the ball.

indirect object

Note that the indirect object comes between the verb and the direct object.

Look at some more example sentences:

subject verb indirect object direct object
The teacher gave the class some homework.
I read her the letter.
John bought Mary a ring.
John brought Mary some flowers.

An indirect object can be one word or several words. It is usually:

In general, indirect objects are often people or animals and direct objects are often things.

Indirect Object or prepositional phrase?

In general an indirect object can be rephrased and repositioned as a prepositional phrase starting with "to" or "for". The examples above would then become:

subject verb direct object prepositional phrase
The teacher gave some homework to the class.
I read the letter to her.
John bought a ring for Mary.
John brought some flowers for Mary.

Note that the prepositional phrase is NOT the indirect object—it is just a prepositional phrase.

An Indirect Object needs a direct object

To have an indirect object in a sentence there must first be a direct object. That also means that only transitive verbs can have an indirect object (because only transitive verbs can have a direct object).

How to find the Indirect Object

To check whether an indirect object exists in a sentence, you first need to find the verb and direct object.

Example: Sue passed Ann the ball.

Answer: The indirect object is Ann.

When Indirect Object is a pronoun, the pronoun must be in objective case

Remember that pronouns can have subjective and objective case, like this:

personal pronouns
subjective case objective case
I
you
he, she, it
we
they
me
you
him, her, it
us
them

When the indirect object is a pronoun, the pronoun MUST be in objective case. Look at these examples:

More example sentences with Indirect Object

The indirect object can appear in positive sentences, negative sentences, question sentences and imperative sentences. Here are some examples showing the indirect object in different types of sentence: