What is a direct object?
What is a direct object, and how can you identify it in a sentence?
Here is a simplified overview of English sentence structure:
Subject + Verb + Object
Actor + Action + What is acted upon
Example: “The man bites the dog.”
- -- "The man" = the subject doing the action
- -- "bites" = the verb, i.e. action
- -- "the dog" = the direct object, i.e. what receives the action or what is acted upon
This sentence is obviously quite different from “The dog bites the man.” How do we know that the man is the subject in one sentence and the object in the other—whether the man is doing the biting or being bitten? In English, we usually get this information from the word order: first comes subject, then comes verb, then comes object.
Here are three questions you can ask to identify the subject, verb, and direct object of a sentence:
- Who/what did the action? (= subject)
- What was the action? (= verb)
- What did the subject [verb]? (= direct object)
Learn more about direct objects in English and Spanish:
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