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Noun Function 5 - Indirect Object

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Here’s a function of the noun we skipped over in our general overview above. Look at the following example. Then we’ll discuss the nature of the indirect object.

5. Indirect Object

Once again, one sentence shows all 10 functions:

The professor, John Smith, is the noun expert, so yesterday he gave the class his views on the importance of learning to write papers clearly, his students feverishly taking notes on all he said.

To become an accomplished writer, you must learn all functions of the noun, for the mark of the ace writer is the ability to use a wide variety of structures in a wide variety of ways. So let’s learn a function of nouns we skipped in our earlier discussion.

Shake hands with the indirect object, a person or thing secondarily affected by the action of the verb, the direct object being primarily affected. The indirect object appears in the sentence as a noun (or pronoun) unconnected by a preposition. It is positioned between the verb and the direct object. Like this:

The professor, John Smith, is the noun expert, so yesterday he gave the class his views on the importance of learning to write papers clearly, his students feverishly taking notes on all he said.

Notice that the direct object of the transitive verb gave is the word views. The class, on the other hand, is “the person for whom or to whom something is done or given,” to quote Miss Hamrick’s definition burned into our memories in the 1950s.

If you want to move the indirect object to a place after the verb, you’ll have to turn it into the object of a prepositional phrase:

The professor, John Smith, is the noun expert, so yesterday he gave his views to his class on the importance of learning to write papers clearly, his students feverishly taking notes on all he said.

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