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.






Thank you. But why would a father give his daughter a ring? Shouldn't the husband do that instead?

Thanks again.

Hi learning,

The ring the father plans to give to his daughter is not an engagement ring. It could be some kind of family heirloom, for example.

All the best,
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,
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.

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,
The LearnEnglish Team

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.


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.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Peter,
I have a small inquiry
"He offered to help us move house"
Now 'to help' is to+infinitive, so according to sentence structure (VNP) we should have to "He offered to help us to move house". But second to is omitted because not to have a bad style, right?

Hello SajadKhan,

Help is an unusual verb in that it can be followed by either to + infinitive or just the bare infinitive. Thus both help us move and help us to move are possible here without any change in meaning.



The LearnEnglish Team