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The indirect object.

The indirect object denotes a living being to whom the action of the verb is directed. There are also cases when it denotes a thing.

There are two types of indirect object:

1. The indirect object of the first type, which expresses theaddressee of the action.

It is used with transitive verbs which take a direct object, so it hardly ever stands alone.


She gave him an interesting book to read.

Don’t forget to buy him a toy on his birthday.

He забудьте купить ему игрушку ко дню рождения.


C o m p a r e :


“I shall buy him,” said the slave-owner.

«Я его куплю», — сказал рабовладелец.


Thus, when translating into English such Russian sentences as дайте мне, покажите мне, a direct object must be introduced, otherwise the sentence either has no meaning at all, or its meaning is changed altogether.


N o t e. — There are three verbs which may take an indirect object without

any direct object. In this case the indirect object is used with the preposition

to. These verbs are: to read, to write, to sing.


When I was ill she often read to me.

Won’t you sing to me?

Write to me as often as you can.


There is, however, a tendency in Modern English to use no preposition with the verb to write.


Write me as often as you can.


As a rule the indirect object comes before the direct object. In this case it is used without a preposition.


Much upset and without hope now she sent Soames the telegram. (Galsworthy)


When the direct object precedes the indirect object, the latter is used chiefly with the preposition to and sometimes for. These prepositions make the indirect object more prominent.


Farrish was giving an interview to the correspondents. (Heym)


But sometimes we cannot change the order of words at will, namely when the direct object is a pronoun and the indirect object, a noun. In this case the indirect object follows the direct object.


I sent him to his mother.


When the direct object is expressed by the pronoun it, it always precedes the indirect object.


Give it to him.


In colloquial speech, when the indirect object is a pronoun, the preposition to is often not used: Give it him, b u t: Give it to Mary.

There are a number of verbs after which the indirect object is used with the preposition to even when it comes before the direct object. These are: to explain, to dictate, to suggest, to relate, to announce, to ascribe, to attribute, to communicate, to introduce, to submit, to repeat, to dedicate, to disclose, to interpret, to point out.


Sometimes in the privacy of his bedroom James would reveal to Emily the

real sufferingthat his son’s misfortune caused him. (Galsworthy)

I shall dictate to you the names of booksto be read for your examination.

He is not very bright, I attribute to his diligence the progresshe has made in

English in so short a time. The professor explained to us some obscure

passagesin Shakespeare’s tragedy Romeo and Juliet.


This order of words is mostly found when the direct object is modified by an extended attribute.

2. The indirect object of the second type, which is more frequently used with intransitive verbs than with transitive ones and which does not always express the addressee of the action.


An idea had occurred to Soames. (Galsworthy)

My childhood was passed with a grandmother. (Dickens)

I want to thank you for your kindness.


Here lies one of the points of its difference from the indirect object of the first type which is used with or without a preposition depending upon its place with regard to the direct object. The indirect object of the second type can be called the prepositional indirect object.So in the sentence She bought a piece of embroidery for me for me is an indirect object, whereas in the sentence She did this piece of embroidery for me for me is a prepositional indirect object. In contrast to the indirect object of the first type, which is used only with the preposition to and seldom for, the use of the prepositional indirect object is not confined to any definite set of prepositions. Thus it can be used with any preposition.

The prepositional indirect object is used not only with verbs but also with adjectives, words denoting state, and nouns of verbal origin.


I am uneasy about it.

She was not aware of his being there.

Her behaviour to her friendswas irreproachable.


It is difficult sometimes to distinguish between an attribute and a prepositional indirect object.


Yates’s mind was like a caldron in which boiled the general tension in town,

the expectation of getting to Yasha.(Heym)


The phrase of getting to Yasha can be treated both as an attribute and as a prepositional indirect object.



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