1. Some verbs have two objects –an indirect object and a direct object:

Subject Verb Indirect object Direct object
My wife sent me an email
He brought his mother some flowers
He cooked all his friends a delicious meal

These clauses have the structure: V + N (indirect object) + N (direct object)

2. We can use a prepositional phrase with to or for with an indirect object:

 

Subject Verb Direct object Prepositional phrase
My wife sent an email to me
He brought some flowers for his mother
He cooked a delicious meal for all his friends.

These clauses have the structure : V + N (direct object) + Prepositional phrase (indirect object)

3. Common verbs with for and an indirect object are:

  • book
  • buy
  • get
  • cook
  • keep
  • bring
  • make
  • pour
  • save
  • find

They booked a table for me at the restaurant.
We made toys for all the children.

4. Common verbs with to and an indirect object are:

  • give
  • lend
  • offer
  • pass
  • post
  • read
  • sell
  • send
  • show
  • promise
  • tell

He gave his programme to the man sitting next to him.
They sent Christmas cards to all their customers.

5. If the indirect object is a long phrase we normally use to or for:

He showed his ticket to the policeman standing by the door.
We kept something to eat and drink for all the people who arrived late.

6. If the indirect object is a pronoun we normally use the N + V + N + N pattern:

I poured him another drink.
Their mother read them another story.


 

Exercise

Exercise

Comments

Hi Peter,
Thanks for the explanations, I get the first and third. I'm describing the second one in detail.
I'm using short forms (V=verb IO=Indirect Object DO=Direct Object P=Prepositional Phrase)
We learned two patterns in this lesson
1. I've bought you some fresh fish (V IO DO)
2. I've bought some fresh fish for you (V DO P)
Now in the actual sentence, "I've bought you some fresh fish for dinner", the pattern is (V IO DO P).
How is it different from the first two and in what cases we use it?

Hi SajadKhan,

There is no difference in meaning. The prepositional phrase at the end is separate and does not influence the verb or its objects:

I bought you some fish / I I bought you some fish for dinner.

I bought some fish for you / I bought some fish for you for dinner.

Simply for stylistic reasons we would try to avoid the last version because of the repetition of 'for', but all of the above are grammatically correct.

 

Prepositional phrases have many roles in English. They can be used with an indirect object, as stated above, but they can also be used in other ways.

You can read more about other uses of prepositional phrases here.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,
I have some question about some of the sentences in the exercises.
1. I can't find anything to wear for dinner.
Now anything is a direct object and after that we have prepositions, but we there are both (to and for) proposition. Could you explain the sentence structure here?

2. I've bought you some fresh fish for dinner.
Here it seems that we are having both kinds of structures explained in the lesson. Indirect object(you) and also the proposition. How's that?

3. He offered to help us move house.
Help seems the direct object but I can't understand how its mixed with a proposition.

I'd be grateful if you could explain these sentences.

Regards

Hi SajadKhan,

In your first example, the phrase 'to wear' is a verb in the infinitive, not a prepositional phrase. We can follow indefinite pronouns (anything, something, nobody etc.) with infinitives:

There was nothing to do.

I know somewhere to go.

We didn't have anything to eat.

 

I'm not sure what your question is with the second point. The sentence has an indirect object (you), a direct object (fresh fish) and a prepositional phrase (for dinner).

 

Your third question is similar to the first. The phrase 'to help' is a verb in the infinitive form, not a prepositional phrase. 'Help' is often followed by an infinitive:

I helped him to find the house.

Please help me to open the door.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir
I gave a diary to Mary./ I gave Mary a diary
Are both these sentences correct? Both give the same meaning.
Is 'a dtary' the direct object and 'Mary' is the indirect object?
Please let me know.
Thank you.
Regards
Lal

Hi Lal,

Yes, both are correct and they mean exactly the same thing. In the first, 'a diary' is the direct object and 'to Mary' is a prepositional phrase. In the second, 'a diary' is the direct object and 'Mary' is the indirect object. The prepositional phrase in the first indicates who the indirect object is.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hey, I’d like to know what’s the difference between “She gave all her CDs away to charity.” and “She gave away all her CDs to charity.”
Thank you so much!

Hi zeynepucar,

There is no difference in meaning between these two sentences. Changes in the word order of separable phrasal verbs (like 'give away') don't change their meaning.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,

Can you explain what "I've promised the ring to my daughter after I'm gone." means?

Thank you.

Hello learning,

This sentence means that the speaker's daughter will receive the ring after the speaker's death. The phrase 'leave something to someone' is about inheritance - passing on what we own to others (family or friends, for example) after we die.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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