Indirect Object In A Sentence

Updated Jul 6, 2023

Understanding the Indirect Object in a Sentence

Have you ever come across sentences that include an indirect object and wondered what its purpose is? In the realm of grammar, the indirect object plays a crucial role in adding depth and clarity to a sentence's meaning. In this article, we will delve into the concept of the indirect object, explore its functions, and provide examples to help you grasp its usage.

What is an Indirect Object?

An indirect object is a grammatical term used to identify the recipient of the direct object in a sentence. It answers the question "to whom" or "for whom" the action of the verb is performed. In other words, it tells us who benefits from or is affected by the action.

To identify the indirect object in a sentence, you can ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Who is receiving the direct object?
  2. to whom or for whom is the action being done?

The Role of the Indirect Object

The indirect object serves as a bridge between the subject, the verb, and the direct object in a sentence. It helps to establish relationships and clarify the recipient or beneficiary of the action. While not all sentences require an indirect object, it can provide valuable information and add depth to the meaning of a sentence.

Examples of Indirect Objects

Let's explore a few examples to better understand the concept of the indirect object:

  1. She gave her friend a book.

    • Subject: She
    • Verb: gave
    • Direct Object: book
    • Indirect Object: friend

    In this sentence, "her friend" is the indirect object as it answers the question "to whom" the book was given.

  2. The teacher handed the students the exam papers.

    • Subject: teacher
    • Verb: handed
    • Direct Object: exam papers
    • Indirect Object: students

    Here, "the students" is the indirect object, answering the question "to whom" the exam papers were handed.

Placement of the Indirect Object

In English, the indirect object typically comes before the direct object in a sentence. However, it's important to note that not all sentences contain an indirect object. Some verbs do not require one, while others may have a prepositional phrase instead.

Verbs Commonly Used with Indirect Objects

Certain verbs are commonly used with indirect objects, such as:

  • give
  • show
  • tell
  • send
  • offer
  • bring
  • lend
  • write

These verbs often require both a direct object (the thing being given, shown, etc.) and an indirect object (the recipient or beneficiary).


Understanding the role of the indirect object in a sentence helps us grasp the full meaning and relationships within a sentence. By identifying the recipient or beneficiary of the action, the indirect object adds clarity and depth. Next time you come across a sentence with an indirect object, take a moment to appreciate its significance in conveying the message effectively.

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