What Is an Object? (with Examples)

What Is an Object? (with Examples)

An object is a noun (or pronoun) that is governed by a verb or a preposition. There are 3 kinds of objects: a direct object, an indirect object, and an object of a preposition.

Examples of a Direct Object

The direct object of a verb is the thing being acted upon (i.e., the receiver of the action). You can find the direct object by finding the verb and asking "what?" or "whom?". For example:
  • Please pass the butter.
  • (Q: pass what? A: the butter)
  • I don't have a bank account, because I don't know my mother's maiden name. (Paula Poundstone)
  • (Q: don't have what? A: a bank account)
    (Q: don't know what? A: my mother's maiden name)
Read more about direct objects.

Examples of an Indirect Object

The indirect object is the recipient of the direct object. You can find the indirect object by finding the direct object (see above) and then asking who or what received it. In the examples below, the indirect objects are shaded, and the direct objects are in bold.
  • Please pass Simon the butter.
  • (Q: pass what? A: the butter)
    (Q: Who (or what) received the butter? A: Simon)
  • Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. (George S Patton, 1885-1945)
  • (Q: tell what? A: how to do things)
    (Q: Who (or what) received it? A: people)
    (Q: tell what? A: what to do)
    (Q: Who (or what) received it? A: them)
In the last example, the direct objects were noun clauses. An object can be a single word, a pronoun, a noun phrase, or a noun clause.

Read more about indirect objects.

Examples of an Object of a Preposition

The noun or pronoun after a preposition is known as the object of a preposition. In the examples below, the objects of prepositions are shaded, and prepositions are in bold.
  • She lives near Brighton.
  • She lives with him.
  • You can tell a lot about a fellow's character by his way of eating jellybeans. (Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004)
Read more about objects of prepositions.

Objects Are in the Objective Case

Objects are always in the objective case. In English, this only affects pronouns (but not all pronouns). For example:
  • She saw him.
  • (The pronoun him is the objective case version of he (which is the subjective case).)
  • Give them the money.
  • (The pronoun them is the objective case version of they.)
  • Dance with her.
  • (The pronoun her is the objective case version of she.)
Here is a list of subjective pronouns and objective pronouns:

Subjective PronounObjective PronounComment
youyouNo change
ititNo change
whowhom More on who & whom
Interactive Test

See Also

What are nouns? What are pronouns? What are verbs? What are prepositions? What is a direct object? What is an indirect object? What is the object of a preposition? What are noun phrases? What are noun clauses? What are objective pronouns? More on who & whom Glossary of grammatical terms