Difference Between Direct and Indirect Object

Main Difference – Direct vs Indirect Object 

An object is a noun, pronoun or a noun phrase that gives meaning to the subject and the verb in a sentence. In the English language, there are two types of objects; they are direct objects and indirect objects.  The main difference between direct and indirect object is, direct object is the recipient of the action while indirect object is the recipient of the direct object. In this article, we are going to look at the difference between Direct and Indirect object.

What is a Direct Object

A direct object is a noun, pronoun, or a noun phrase that receives the action of a verb or shows the result of the action.  It answers the question “What?” or “Whom?” after an action verb. If you can find the subject and the verb in a sentence, then you can find the direct object easily by using the formula,

Subject + verb + what or who = Direct Object

For example let’s take the sentence, “John and Paul played cricket.” In this sentence, “John and Paul” is the subject, “play” is the verb and “cricket” is the object. If you form the question “What did John and Paul play?” you get the object as the answer.

He repaired my car.

They played volleyball.

I told a lie.

I hate him.

Difference Between Direct and Indirect Object

She is eating an apple.

What is an Indirect Object

A sentence must always have a direct object first, for an indirect object to exist. In other words, an indirect object cannot exist in a sentence without a direct object. An indirect object is a noun or pronoun that is affected by the action. It would be correct to state that an indirect object is the recipient of the direct object.


He sent me a present.

In this sentence, “present” is the direct object and “me” is the indirect object.  You can also note that “me” is the recipient of the direct object.  So we can ask the question “for whom did he send a present?” to know the indirect object. An indirect object always answers the questions ‘to whom’, ‘for whom’ or ‘for what.’ etc.

She gave it to me.

I told my teacher a lie.

He bought a present for her mother.

She gave her English notes to me.

As seen from the above examples, indirect objects can appear before or after the direct object. But, they are always the recipient of the direct object. For instance, look at the second example above (I told my teacher a lie.) Here “teacher” is the indirect object. It answers the question ‘to whom did you tell a lie?’

Direct vs Indirect Object

I gave him a present.

Difference Between Direct Object and Indirect Object


Direct Object: Direct object is a noun or pronoun receiving the action.

Indirect Object: Indirect object is a noun or pronoun affected by the action and it is also the recipient of the direct object.


Direct Object: Its presence does not depend on the indirect object.

Indirect Object: A direct object is necessary for an indirect object to be present

Verb Type

Direct Objects: They  are generally represented by transitive verbs.

Indirect Objects: They are generally represented by intransitive verbs.


Direct Objects: They  are preceded by the verb.

Indirect Objects: They are often preceded by prepositions.direct vs indirect object-info

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