indirect object


: a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase that occurs in addition to a direct object after some verbs and indicates the person or thing that receives what is being given or done : the person or thing that the action of a verb is performed for or directed to
In the sentences "She bought him a present," "He gave all four walls a new coat of paint," and "Ask me a question," "him," "all four walls," and "me" are indirect objects and "a present," "a new coat of paint," and "a question" are direct objects.

Note: Verbs that can take indirect objects are called ditransitive verbs.

Examples of indirect object in a Sentence

In “He gave me the book,” the direct object is “book” and the indirect object is “me.”
Recent Examples on the Web Four different cases in Old English tell you whether a word is a subject, direct object, indirect object or possessor. The Economist, 1 Mar. 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'indirect object.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1879, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of indirect object was in 1879

Dictionary Entries Near indirect object

Cite this Entry

“Indirect object.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition

indirect object

: a grammatical object representing the secondary goal of the action of its verb
"me" in "gave me the book" is an indirect object
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