What Is the Difference Between Direct & Indirect Objects?

If you give someone a llama,
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A direct object receives the action of the verb. An indirect object, on the other hand, tells for or to whom or what the action was performed. These sentence components are always nouns or pronouns, and unless the sentence is a question, they normally come after the verb.

1 Examples of Direct and Indirect Objects

To identify a direct object, locate the sentence’s verb, and then determine whom or what it affects. For example, in the sentence, “She gave away her llama,”, the direct object is llama, because it is the thing being given. However, in the sentence, ”She gave him her llama,” the direct object is still llama, because it is being given. The indirect object is him, because he is the one she gave the llama to. Sinclair Community College’s Tutoring and Learning Center suggests finding a direct object by asking “who?” or “what?”: What did she give away? Find the indirect object, on the other hand, by asking “to whom?” or “to what?”: To whom did she give her llama? Note that not every verb can have an indirect object. For example, in the sentence, "I love my llama," the direct object is llama, because that is the thing I love; there is no possibility for an indirect object here, however -- only adverbs that describe how much I love it.

Jennifer Spirko has been writing professionally for more than 20 years, starting at "The Knoxville Journal." She has written for "MetroPulse," "Maryville-Alcoa Daily Times" and "Some" monthly. She has taught writing at North Carolina State University and the University of Tennessee. Spirko holds a Master of Arts from the Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-on-Avon, England.