The Object is a noun or a pronoun that receives an action in a sentence. There are three types namely Diect object,Indirect object and Object of a preposition.

Both direct object and indirect object receive the action in a sentence. But I have a doubt about "object of preposition". If there is no receiving action in "the object of the preposition" then how could we say it is a "object" by the definition?

  • 3
    Where did you get that definition from? If it seems faulty then it probably is.
    – curiousdannii
    Oct 10, 2017 at 5:55
  • 2
    It's just terminology, in many theories arguments of prepositions aren't called "objects."
    – Atamiri
    Oct 10, 2017 at 20:40
  • It makes sense to call any 'argument' (NP) within the predicate an 'object', as they probably share a storage method in the brain. They do need to be marked for case (in the brain), but direct objects and objects of prepositions don't need explicit markers in speech, so they may well use the same internal marker.
    – amI
    Oct 13, 2017 at 22:42
  • One of the problems with the term object is that is overly broad in its linguistic use and used confusingly in its intsructional applications. I like the distinction that an object recieves the action (or state) of the verb. But an indirect object is not reciving anything from the verb, it only indicates the direction of the action. Naming it an object at all conflicts with the notion that objects recive the action of action verbs. Indirect object have an adverbial relation with the verb not an object relation - according to the suggested definition of object. Jan 28, 2021 at 7:44

3 Answers 3


Your definition is faulty - it is a coalescence of two different possible meanings of "object".

If you accept the phrase "Object of a preposition" (not all accounts of grammar do) then the definition "that receives an action in a sentence" doesn't apply to it: you would need to distinguish "object of a verb" (or "of the sentence") from "object of a preposition".


From one point of view, or as @Colin Fine above says, you're comparing apples and oranges. From another, it's interesting to investigate if there is actually a common phenomenon. Thus for "object of a preposition" see Inherent Case.

The site linked cites a German example,

jemandem (dative) helfen 
<someone>         <help>

(to help) is inherently dative [assigning]

However, nominalize it and you will find all but this (dative) case.

Hilfe für jemanden (accusative)


das Helfen/Hilfe von jemandem (indeed dative, but see what follows)


jemandes Helfen/Hilfe (genetive)

key note: there is no way of assigning to the object (ie who is being helped) original dative as soon as nominalized

further note:

jemandem (dative) wird geholfen
<someone><is being><helped>


jemand (nominative) wird gesehen
<someone><is being><seen>

disclaimer: for most of these forms of jemand(e)(m)(n)(s), most people simply say "jemand" (without case marking), but I couldn't think of another quick and neutral example

  • 1
    You can make up an example with a personal pronoun (mir wird geholfen/ich werde gesehen etc.) Oct 12, 2017 at 8:15

I think it is the use of the term object that is problematic. You suggest the three types of objects that are commonly identified in traditional grammar and also in linguistics, though terms like patient, adjunct argument and complement are more common. But these all identify very different types of syntactic and semantic relations.

(using the notion of complement quite broadly as any modifying word phrase...)

  1. "Direct Object": is a verb complement (patient) in an object relation: it identifies the thing (object) that receives the action (or state) of the verb

This is the traditional definition of an object, the one we all learn in middle school grammar classes and it makes a semantic distinction, one which is also included in the linguistic definition of the term along with other syntactic distinctions which differ from langauge to language. But as a simple semantic definition, it doesn't hold for the two other types of objects you identify because in linguistics the "object" really has little, if anything, to do with semantics, even when it is used to identify a "direct object". The term object is always going to have some semantic content, even if linguists don't use it that way.

  1. "Indirect Object": *a verb complement, adjunct or argument: usually indicates the direction or purpose of the action (to/for someone or something, a semantically adverbial relation) in a unique construction that fronts the adverbial (complement) ahead of the verb's object.

According to the semantic definition in 1 above, this isn't an object at all - at best it's an adjunct or argument (syntactic) but its semantic relation is adverbial - it says something about where or why the action happens. This use turns a semantic distinction into a syntactic one. If one is going to use semantic labels to identify verb complements, they'd be more consistent if it was labeled an adverbial relation rather than calling it an object. But that's just me.

  1. "Prepositional Object: identifies the thing that receives the relation of the preposition with its antecedent (usually a verb or a noun) - usually functions syntacitcaly as a verb complement or a noun complement

If the relation's antecedent is a verb, then it is a verb complement and most often in an adverbial relation to the the verb. If the antecedent is a noun, the prepositional phrase is syntactically a noun complement. Not all linguistic frmaeworks use this term and instead may call it a landmark of the preposition, or something else.

These are all very different semantic and syntactic relations and it would be at least more clear if they did not all share the same term. I'm always amazed at how well linguists juggle these terms and manage to keep their origins in mind, while most of us mortals seem to botch them at every turn. It makes the question of what is an object seem, I dunno, somewhat Quixotic.

  • If someone os going to downvote an asnwer, they should at least have the courtesy of stating their objection in the comments section. Presumably this forum is about learning somethig after all. Oct 14, 2020 at 7:00

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