ESL Direct Objects

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A direct object is a person or thing that directly affected by the action of a verb. For example:

Jennifer bought a book.
Egan ate an apple.

In the first sentence, a book is affected because it is bought by Jennifer. In the second sentence, an apple disappeared because it was eaten by Egan. Both of the objects are directly affected by a specific action. In other words, they are direct objects.

Direct Objects Answer Questions

Direct objects answer the questions: What was affected by the action of the verb? or Whom was affected by the action of the verb? For example:

Thomas sent a letter? - What was sent? -> a letter! / letter is a direct object
Frank kissed Angela. - Who was kissed? -> Angela / Angela is a direct object

Direct objects can be nouns, proper nouns (names), pronouns, phrases, and clauses.

Nouns as Direct Objects

Direct objects can be nouns (things, objects, people, etc.). For example:

Jennifer bought a book. - The direct object 'book' is a noun.
Egan ate an apple. - The direct object 'apple' is a noun.

Pronouns as Direct Objects

Pronouns can be used as direct objects. It's important to note that pronouns used as direct objects must take the object pronoun form. Object pronouns include me, you, him, her, it, us, you, and them. For example:

I watched it last week. - 'it' (a television show) is an object pronoun.
She's going to visit them next month. - 'them' (a few people) is an object pronoun.

Phrases as Direct Objects

Gerunds (ing form) and gerund phrases and infinitives (to do) and infinitive phrases can also function as direct objects.

For example:

Tom enjoys watching TV. - 'watching TV' (gerund phrase) functions as the direct object of the verb 'enjoy'.
I hope to finish soon. - 'to finish soon' (infinitive phrase) functions as the direct object of the verb 'finish'.

Clauses as Direct Objects

Clauses contain both a subject and a verb.

This type of longer phrase can also be used as a direct object of a verb in another clause. For example:

Hank believes that she is doing well at school. - 'that she is doing well at school' directly tells us what Hank believes. This dependent clause functions as a direct object.
She hasn't decided where she is going on vacation. - where she is going on vacation' answers the question 'What has she not decided yet?' it functions as a direct object.

If you would like to learn more about indirect objects, visit the indirect objects explanation page.