In a sentence, the direct object is the noun or noun phrase that’s receiving the action of the verb. The basic construction works like this: Subject + Verb + Who or What.
For example, “Brenna enjoyed oysters and an iced tea for dinner.” Here, the subject is "Brenna" and the verb is "enjoyed." What did Brenna enjoy? Oysters and an iced tea. Simple enough, right? Let’s walk through a few more direct object examples.
Direct Objects and Transitive Verbs
To be more specific, direct objects follow transitive verbs. Sounds “jargony,” right? In truth, a transitive verb is simply an action verb. So, why not call them action verbs? Action verbs can be followed by a number of different phrases. Transitive verbs, however, can only be followed by direct objects, as they need to act upon something or someone. They’re a match made in heaven and they don’t like to part.
The direct object can be a singular noun or noun phrase (a group of words that act as a noun together).
Let’s look at some more examples. The direct object is highlighted in bold.
- Damien hates raisins.
- The ocean calls Siobhan.
- Sasha paints landscapes.
- Aisling loves sitting by the sea.
- James accidentally tripped Claire as she walked out of her room.
- I hugged him will all my might.
- The dog hates when her owner puts her on a leash.
- I assumed that the policy was canceled.
- Tommy prefers the librarian with red glasses.
- Shannon loves traveling to Europe.
- Europe welcomed millions of tourists last year.
- The kindergarteners prefer short stories over poetry.
- Poetry harkens people from all across the globe.
- Jack chased Jill and her merry band of friends.
- Dad built a treehouse for my 11th birthday.
Contrast With Subject Complements
Remember that direct objects follow transitive verbs (action verbs). If you ever see a linking verb, your spidey senses should make you aware that you are no longer dealing with a direct object.
Common linking verbs include:
- has been
- have been
Linking verbs don’t show any action. Rather, their sole job is to link the subject of the sentence to further information. That further information is known as the subject complement. Subject complements also answer the question “who” or “what.” The key here is to note the type of verb in the sentence. Subject complements will only follow linking verbs.
Subject Complement Examples
Let’s look at a few examples to demonstrate the difference between direct objects and subject complements:
- I am an aspiring playwright.
(“Am” is a linking verb, showing no action. This means we’re dealing with a subject complement and not a direct object.)
- I have been an accountant for many years.
(“Have been” is a linking verb in this sentence, showing no action. “An accountant for many years” is, therefore, a subject complement and not a direct object.)
- Seattle seems exciting when you consider its coffee shop culture.
(“Seems” is showing no action and is, therefore, a linking verb. This makes “exciting when you consider its coffee shop culture” a subject complement.)
Direct Your Information
The majority of our sentences require direct objects to be complete. We have a subject (the thing we’re talking about) and a verb (the rope that ties the subject to further information). However, we still need to know what’s going on.
That’s where direct objects come in. They provide more information, answering the question “who” or “what” is receiving the action of the verb. Have you ever heard of indirect objects? Can you guess what their role is? Check out Indirect Object Examples to uncover the truth.