Direct / Indirect Object – English Grammar


English grammar: Direct – indirect object

 The English verbs are followed by two different kinds of objects – the direct object and indirect object.

I sent Mary some flowers.

I sent some flowers to Mary.

These sentences contain both direct and indirect objects. Flowers are the direct object and it refers to

what I sent. Mary is the indirect object and it refers to whom I sent it.


1.If the indirect object comes before the direct object, there is no

They gave Harold a new car.

2.If the indirect object comes after the direct object, a preposition must be

They gave a new car to Harold.

 3.If the direct object is a pronoun (it, this … ), it comes before the indirect object and a preposition must be used.

I bought it for my sister. Can you send it to him?

(Not: I bought my sister it. Can you send him it?)


1.If the verbs read and write are only followed by the indirect object, a preposition must be

Please, read to me. (Not: Please, read me).

But: Read me the letter. Read the letter to me. (There are two objects in these sentences.)

I’ll write to you soon.

But: I’ll write you a letter. I’ll write a letter to you. (two objects)

2.We can use the verbs promise, show, and tell with the indirect object only, but without a

I can’t promise you. (Or: I can’t promise it to you. – with two objects)

Show him. (Or: Show it to him.)

Can you tell me?