1. What is an Object in a Sentence?
An object is the word affected by the verb or preposition in a sentence. Objects are usually nouns or pronouns that answer questions like “who,” “what,” “where,” and “when?” Overall, they add more details to a sentence, which makes it more interesting and informative. There are three types of objects: the direct object, indirect object, and object of the preposition. A sentence may have one, none, or a combination of the three.
2. Examples of an Object in a Sentence
Here are a few basic examples of how objects work in sentences:
- The dog bought a This sentence uses a direct object to tell what the subject bought; a “present.”
- The dog bought a present for the cat. This sentence adds an indirect object to also tell whom the subject bought the present for; the “cat.”
- The dog gave a present to the cat at the This sentence adds an object of the preposition to tell where this is all happening; the “party.”
3. Types of Objects in a Sentence
As said, there can be three types of objects in a sentence: the direct object, the indirect object, and the object of the preposition. Some sentences may include all three types, while some may include only one or none at all.
a. Direct Object
A direct object is a noun or pronoun that receives the verb’s action. An easy trick is to know that the direct object answers the questions “what?” Now, this sentence has no direct object:
The dog cooked.
Right now, we may be asking, “what did the dog cook?” By adding a direct object, we can add more information to a sentence. Let’s add a direct object to answer that question:
The dog cooked popcorn.
In this sentence, the verb is “cooked.” So, the direct object should be what is receiving the verb’s action—in other words, what is being cooked? “Popcorn” is the direct object, because it gets cooked (verb). Here’s another:
I wrapped a present.
What did you wrap? A present. “Present” is the direct object because you “wrapped” it.
- The dog cooked buttery popcorn. The direct object is the phrase “buttery popcorn.”
- The dog ate the popcorn he cooked. The direct object is the clause “the popcorn he cooked.”
b. Indirect Object
An indirect object is the noun or pronoun that receives the direct object. It answers the question “to/for what?” or “to/for whom?” Let’s start with a sentence without a direct object:
The dog cooked popcorn.
Now, let’s ask, “for whom did the dog cook the popcorn?” Our answer is the indirect object, which we can add to the sentence:
The dog cooked popcorn for the cat.
“Cat” is the indirect object because it gets the popcorn. Here’s another example:
It was the cat’s birthday, so the dog bought her a present.
Here, “present” is the direct object, making “cat” the indirect object, because she receives the present that the dog bought.
Remember—an indirect object relies on a direct object; so, in order for there to be an indirect object, a sentence has to have a direct object first!
c. Object of the Preposition
The object of the preposition is the object that is paired with the preposition in a sentence. It answers the question “where or when did this all happen?” and follows the form preposition + object of the preposition. Here are a few examples:
- At home (place)
- During the week (time)
- In the car (place)
- After midnight (time)
- On the table (place)
- Within an hour (time)
As you can see, prepositions are the words in a sentence that show location in both place and time, like “in,” “at,” “on,” “before,” “about,” “after,” and “around” to name a few.
Though it may seem possible, “preposition + object of the preposition” is never a full sentence on its own. While you may sometimes say things like “at home” when asked “where are you?”, a full sentence would actually be “I am at home” (remember: a sentence needs a clause). So now, let’s put these into full sentences. The preposition and object are both underlined in the examples below.
The dog is at home.
Where is the dog? The answer is “at” (preposition) “home” (object of the preposition). The object of the preposition is “home,” because it is paired with the preposition “at.” Let’s try another example:
After dinner, he made popcorn for the cat.
The object of the preposition is “dinner” because it is linked with the preposition “after.” “After dinner” answers the question “when did he make popcorn?”
What’s more, a sentence can have more than one object of the preposition:
He will be at home cooking popcorn on the stovetop until dinner.
This sentence has three objects of the preposition: “at” (preposition) + “home” (object of the preposition) and “on” + “stovetop” and “until” + “dinner.” It answers where and when the dog will cook popcorn.
To conclude, here’s one more sentence using all three types of objects:
After dinner, the dog cooked popcorn for the cat.
4. How to Write a Sentence with an Object
You can write a complete sentence without an object, but as you can see, they often have at least one. Basically, all you have to do is follow your verb or preposition with a related noun or pronoun, which is easy to do because it makes your sentence more informative. As mentioned, objects answer questions like “what?” “for whom?” and “where?”, just to name a few, and we answer those questions naturally when we are writing and speaking.
So, to write a sentence with an object, start with a subject and a verb (a clause):
Subject: She +Verb: studied = She studied
Now, let’s ask three questions that will provide us with objects:
- What did she study? Shakespeare: this is our first object, the direct object.
- For what did she study Shakespeare? Her English exam: this is our indirect object.
- When did she study? Saturday night: this is our object of the preposition.
Finally, let’s combine the answers to these three questions with our original clause:
On Saturday night she studied Shakespeare for her English exam.